Monday 23 October 2017

Hard to believe that Cody is a man without a plan

Cats boss surely has something up his sleeve to lower Davy Fitz's Banner

Kilkenny hurling legend DJ Carey was making sure that Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody was getting the first autographed copy as he launched his autobiography in Langtons Hotel in Kilkenny on Mnday evening
Kilkenny hurling legend DJ Carey was making sure that Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody was getting the first autographed copy as he launched his autobiography in Langtons Hotel in Kilkenny on Mnday evening
Vincent Hogan

Vincent Hogan

On Monday night, Brian Cody gently pushed open a window into the complex mind from which all of hurling now awaits fresh genius.

Launching DJ Carey's autobiography at a thronged Langtons, Cody had the faint air of Moses addressing the children of Israel. He spoke of all the transparent glories of Carey's game, the jet-heeled acceleration, the game-defining goals, the bravery of always putting that gloved hand up where most would not risk a worthless piece of plywood.

But then he spoke of something plainer. Cody told the room that DJ Carey might well have been the finest tackler he ever saw play hurling.

Carey, bear in mind, retired after the '05 All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Galway, a wild, ungovernable goal-fest that seemed, if anything, to outlaw the practice. In other words, he was gone by the time Cody so dramatically realigned Kilkenny to deny Cork's push for three-in-a-row.

TRIUMPH

That '06 final changed the clichéd perception of Cody as some kind of old-school patriarch, just sending his teams out to triumph in individual battles. On the day, his tactical savvy completely undressed Cork. "What was alarming was the level of heat and intensity they (Kilkenny) brought to the game and the structural zoning they had for our puck-outs," wrote Sean Og O hAilpin in his recently published autobiography.

To Cork, a tactical Cody seemed to represent some kind of contradiction. It would be the last time that either they or hurling misread him so badly.

Cody's depiction of Carey on Monday night hinted at his gift for seeing beyond the obvious in a team or individual. Actually coming as it did, just over 24 hours after a distinctly ordinary Kilkenny county final, it sent minds arcing instantly towards hurling's million-dollar question.

In light of the game patented so gloriously by Davy Fitz's Clare this year, have Kilkenny got a plan?

The answer must, surely, be in the affirmative, for Cody has hardly committed to his 16th season on mere whimsy. He may feel, with some justification, that injury scarred Kilkenny's year more than any fading appetite or the soaring tonnage of high miles.

Once Dublin evicted them from

Leinster, Cody and his men were sentenced to a schedule of running repairs. They dug to their soles and beyond to see off Tipperary and Waterford, each time returning to the smithy of Nowlan Park to be hurriedly re-shod.

Cody, thus, found himself sentenced to strike that treacherous balance between rest and fury. It proved too much.

But he looked fit and toned in a military grey suit on Monday night as the great and the good came out to support the long-awaited launch of Carey's story, written superbly by Martin Breheny, GAA editor of this precinct. Old gods of the game like 'Babs' Keating and Eddie Keher were in attendance, as was racehorse trainer Jim Bolger, looking a good two decades younger than someone whose 72nd birthday will fall on Christmas Day.

Modern greats attended too, men like Brian Whelahan, Tipperary's Eoin Kelly, Eddie Brennan, John Power, Ollie Baker, Charlie Carter and James McGarry.

Maybe nothing defines the GAA quite like a gathering of clans and this was as good as it can be. Tellingly, during the course of his speech, DJ touched on the essential steel that has come to define Brian Cody in management. "He could be hard, even cruel at times," he said, before faltering momentarily.

"Ah no," he smiled, glimpsing that familiarly enigmatic grin beam up at him from the floor. "He wouldn't really".

Hurling's landscape may have changed, but there's still something familiar rustling in the leaves.

Irish Independent

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