Friday 19 January 2018

Buckley demands Kilkenny backlash in U-21 showdown

Kilkenny player and Bord Gáis Energy Ambassador Cillian Buckley in Emo Court, Laois. Photo: Sportsfile
Kilkenny player and Bord Gáis Energy Ambassador Cillian Buckley in Emo Court, Laois. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

NO rest needed or required. Kilkenny's Cillian Buckley just wants to get back hurling.

The Cats travel to O'Moore Park to take on surprise packets Laois in tonight's Leinster U-21 decider, which gives the county the perfect opportunity to atone for the shock senior defeat to Galway.

Sunday's loss is fresh in the mind but, Buckley argues, what better way to erase the memory of a Leinster final defeat by winning another one?

"Whether we won, lost or drew at the weekend we were going to prepare for it the exact same way," Buckley said. "It's another Leinster final and we want to bring a championship back to Kilkenny."

Defeat tonight would be almost unthinkable for the county and would leave them without a provincial crown in any of the three grades for the first time since 1989.

But backboned by the 2010 All-Ireland minor-winning team and the 2009 version that reached the final, Kilkenny showed their class in the semi-final win over Wexford.

After a slow start, they ran out 11-point winners despite the absence of Buckley due to a hamstring injury, with his fellow county seniors Willie Phelan and Richie Doyle playing starring roles.

"It was our first time together as a team in a competitive game so it was going to take a few minutes to get going," Buckley said.

"Wexford definitely did get a run on us and hopefully we'll be able to get out of the traps quick and drive on for the 60 minutes.

"We have another few weeks' training under the belt. You'd be hoping the performance will be up again and, this being a Leinster final, it will have to be up."

Like everyone else, Buckley is surprised that Laois have come through on the other side of the draw. The midlanders shocked Dublin and followed that up with a narrow win over Carlow to give themselves a shot at their first title at this grade since 1983.

"With Dublin winning the Leinster title last year you would have been expecting them to come through the other side of the draw, but it's all the more reason to be wary of Laois. So we will be expecting a big fight," he said.

Kilkenny make one change to their side, with John Power, brother of senior star Richie, starting in place of Cathal Kenny. Laois make two changes to the backline, with John Finane replaced by Bill Duggan which sees Anthony Phelan switch to corner-back and Duggan moving to centre-back.

Irish Independent

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