Wednesday 17 January 2018

'The kitchen is the only place I've done a bit of sweeping' - Tyrrell

Dublin footballer Paul Flynn, left, and Kilkenny hurler Jackie Tyrrell
Dublin footballer Paul Flynn, left, and Kilkenny hurler Jackie Tyrrell
Kilkenny hurler Jackie Tyrrell Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Jackie Tyrrell leans forward as he fields questions on hurling's topic du jour.

Sweepers and sweeping. Defensive systems. Short puck-outs. There's scarcely a conversation on hurling just now that doesn't involve some or all of those topics.

TJ Reid suggested recently that it is something Kilkenny might look at. For Tyrrell, it just doesn't suit the Kilkenny soul.

"The kitchen is the only place I've done a bit of sweeping," he laughs.

"I would say no, but who is to know? I don't think it is the Kilkenny way. You play to your strengths. I don't think a sweeper is Kilkenny's strength. It might be for other counties and that. I suppose there is a lot of talk out there about sweepers, but nobody was really giving out about it when Clare did it in 2013.

"When they won an All-Ireland with it, there was nothing said about it. Waterford won a league title, there was nothing said about it then. It only seems to be in the last year.

"You can see the reasons why (you'd use a sweeper). I know the games aren't as exciting, but I don't know what the answer is. I don't see Kilkenny using a sweeper or going down that road.

"I suppose other teams pick one person as a sweeper. We would probably say we put all of ourselves there. It can be so amazing if a half-forward runs 10 yards to pick up a midfielder's man. If you do that you can have so many bodies back.

"That is the way we work it, Brian (Cody) puts emphasis on that work rate, that desire, that intensity to play for the team, to be in the right position. I can't see that changing."

Tyrrell missed last weekend's comprehensive dismissal of Dublin due to a hamstring problem. It was the same leg that caused him to sit out the league semi-final defeat to Clare. However, he's confident he'll be fit for the Leinster final against either Galway or Offaly.

"It was the same hamstring," he explains. "It happened and then I went back to the club. Played all the club and training and that and completely forgot about it but it started acting up a small bit then. But it's nothing major.

"Another couple of days and I'll be back in full participation in training."

The Cats were much too strong for the Dublin, dismissing any notion that they might be vulnerable just now. It also brought Ger Loughnane's comments about this Kilkenny team being "functional" back into the conversation.

"I don't know really what to make of it," Tyrrell (pictured) replied, at the launch of Avonmore's vanilla flavour protein milk. "I think these auld lads, and I see it with Fan Larkin in our club, 'Ye weren't as good as in our day' and, 'There were no hamstrings in my day' and all this kind of craic. I think they have that kind of mentality about them and maybe Ger is alluding to that a bit.

"I don't know what to say. The 'functional' comments, it doesn't really make sense to me. Does it bother me? It doesn't bother me in the slightest. I actually rate Ger, I think he's a good analyst but to say we're functional. I don't see how. If you see the success that we've had and the players that have played and the players that are still playing, you know, you'd hear him talking about players that we do have, TJ Reid and Richie Hogan, some of the best players ever and to say that a team is functional..."

Kilkenny move ominously onwards. They are now just three wins from another three-in-a-row. Tyrrell's eyes remains firmly on step two.

"We still have doubters out there and it's great but it's only a win and we won't be getting carried away. It gives us confidence, it gets us going and three weeks to look forward to the Leinster final now."

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