Sport Hurling

Saturday 20 January 2018

Cody will be thrilled to have banished demons

Cyril Farrell

THE DEFEAT to Galway is well and truly out of Kilkenny's system after they overcame a stiff Limerick test with a strong second-half showing at Thurles yesterday.

The Treaty men showed that the wind alone can't win you a game. Having somewhat unusually opted to play with the breeze at their backs in the first half, Brian Cody's side would have been unhappy to be just a point up at the break after Limerick really put it up to them.

After dominating the first half, Limerick would have been satisfied in the dressing-room. But, even with the conditions in their favour, they were unable to take advantage.

Henry Shefflin was brilliant in the first half and showed his class yet again with the skilful finish for the second goal.

After half-time, the team upped their contribution and they were just too good for Limerick, who faded. Colin Fennelly and Aidan Fogarty stepped up with important goals that sapped Limerick's confidence and belief.

Richie Hogan's red card (right) and expected suspension will cause the All-Ireland champions a problem when they come up against their old friends Tipperary next month, and Brian Cody will be sweating over the fitness of Richie Power.

If the injury that saw the centre-forward go off proves serious, the loss of those two players could be crucial against the Munster champions, who have done enough to beat everyone they have played so far this season.

Overall, Cody will have been happy leaving Semple Stadium last night. His team got a good test against a rising Limerick team and came through it.

John Allen's men have had a good season but they will be disappointed after such a good first-half display. They have been just outside the upper echelons for the last few seasons and they remained there yesterday.

For Kilkenny, their clash with Tipperary in a replay of the last three All-Ireland finals will be one to savour. They will have relished getting a good, hard game under their belts and it will help banish the memories of the Leinster final.

Cork will have to prove that they can make the step up needed from a quarter-final to a semi when they meet Galway for a place in the final.

The Rebels showed great character to come from behind against a Waterford team who will wonder how they didn't finish the job.

The Deise have plenty to build on after a decent season, but they will rue the wides and Eoin McGrath's dropped ball in the closing stages when they were looking likely to pull away.

While Michael Ryan will have regrets, Jimmy Barry-Murphy marches on and it was the Cork manager who was able to make telling changes from the line at Semple Stadium.

Cathal Naughton and Darren Sweetnam made a real difference off the bench and they showed that they have learned from the defeat to Tipperary in the Munster championship.

Barry-Murphy has brought his charisma and nous back to the manager's job. We saw how popular he is with the amount of people who came out for the first league game he took charge of after returning to the job.

He is someone that is never questioned in Cork, whereas some of his predecessors would have been.

It is great to see them back at Croke Park for an All-Ireland semi-final, but I think Galway will be favourites.

The test for the Tribesmen is putting back-to-back performances together, while Cork will relish being back on the big stage.

But if the likes of Joe Canning can stay fit and Galway can be at full strength, they can book a place in the decider for the first time since 2005.

Irish Independent

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