Sunday 18 February 2018

'Of course I missed it – this is a good place to be'

Vincent Hogan

Vincent Hogan

Back on the roller-coaster, Brian Cody smiles the smile of a man from whom fear of heights has never thieved a minute's sleep.

Journalists push close to him in the cool dressing-room tunnel, holding out the concession of four goals as something he might care to place on a Petri dish and examine. But Cody doesn't analyse things to any script but his own.

He looks leaner from his surgery and there's evidence that he might have neglected to put sunscreen on his neck, but the demeanour remains operating-theatre cool.

"It was grand being back on the line," he says impassively. "There's nothing different about it. Just the same thing goes ahead; life is grand, very, very enjoyable."

Had he missed it?

"Ah yeah, of course you'd miss it alright. At this time of year, the sun shining and championship hurling, it's a good place to be."

His first game back then and his first ever in championship without the assistance of Henry Shefflin has delivered his team to a Leinster semi-final. Ordinarily, Kilkenny's provincial starting-point. He knows what he's seen was far from perfect, but he's more inclined to talk up opponents than talk down his own.

"We were playing a very, very good team out there; we expected a huge challenge and we got a huge challenge," he shrugs. "They hit us early with two goals and, you know, that puts a fair challenge in front of you. They were strong throughout the field, winning ball, and playing very, very well and playing strong hurling. We had to respond, but we responded well."

And those four goals conceded, the most they've leaked in a championship game since the 2010 All-Ireland final?

"Ah yeah, you wouldn't be delighted," he sighs. "Very seldom you'll win the game by conceding four goals and scoring no goal yourself, but that's the way it transpired today. Obviously, we'd be going out wishing to concede no goal, but that's the way it worked."

For Ollie Baker, there was that considerable comfort of Offaly holding Kilkenny goalless in a championship game for the first time since 1985. While lamenting the number of frees awarded against them, Baker expressed pride in the work ethic of a previously disregarded team.

"These players have put their lives on hold effectively for the last seven/eight months and that's a huge amount," said the Clareman. "There was a huge prize here today to play Kilkenny, a huge opportunity. We didn't look at it any other way. We weren't looking at it in unrealistic terms to say that we were going to come out and just give a performance and it was going to mean a victory. They're just so good.

"Where they're coming from is a different end of the scale, but them lads have serious passion for their county and serious passion for their hurling and you can see that.

"Come down here for club championship matches and you'll get big crowds out, you'll get huge passion, so it's no surprise to me that them lads had that performance in them."

Irish Independent

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