Saturday 24 March 2018

Cats getting business done early is ominous sign for their rivals

Kilkenny manager Brian Cody has been reinstalled even earlier than usual, for a 15th season
Kilkenny manager Brian Cody has been reinstalled even earlier than usual, for a 15th season

Comment Colm Keys

Brian Cody's return for a 16th season as Kilkenny manager was not a surprise on Wednesday night, but the earliest confirmation yet since he took the position 15 years ago most certainly was, and should be viewed ominously by their opponents.

It sends out a message that Kilkenny's thoughts have quickly turned away from a hugely disappointing summer.

Kilkenny and Cody don't usually get around to the business of rubberstamping his re-appointment until the November county board meeting.

Of course, there is usually the routine matter of an All-Ireland final to keep them busy until mid-September.

Then there are club championships to take them to November, when everything falls neatly into place.

But even in the two previous years (2001 and 2005) that they haven't reached an All-Ireland final on his watch, the loose ends have only ever been tied up later in the year.

This year, however, there is more urgency to get down to business, with two new selectors installed ahead of the Kilkenny championships getting under way this weekend.

Kilkenny are out of the championship much earlier than they have been at any stage before during Cody's time in charge and they may have readjusted the settings somewhat because of that. But it's still just over six weeks since their exit to Cork in the All-Ireland quarter-final and already next year's plans are in place.

Martin Fogarty's decision to step down as a selector after a nine-year involvement and the appointment of two new selectors, James McGarry and Derek Lyng, in his place is a big shift in gears.

Fogarty was considered to have a keen analytical eye and he did much of the video analysis for the Cats in recent years.

Fogarty and Michael Dempsey linked up with Cody not long after they managed Kilkenny to the 2004 All-Ireland U-21 title, and the trio's partnership is the longest in hurling history.

McGarry and Lyng have been working with the development squads in recent years, while McGarry was part of the successful Ballyhale Shamrocks management team that won the All-Ireland club title in 2010. He was mentioned briefly as a possible successor to Davy Fitzgerald in Waterford two years ago. They are the first former players of Cody to work with him at this level.

When the Kilkenny County Board met on Monday night for a regular meeting there was no mention of these appointments, but things moved quickly when a special meeting was called at short notice for Wednesday night and the business was completed.

Change to the Kilkenny back-room team is a good thing, no matter how it came about.

The addition of fresh thinking and the focus of minds on 2014 when the 2013 season is not even done and dusted will not have gone unnoticed by their main rivals.

Indo Sport

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport