Saturday 24 February 2018

Walsh insists Cork can derail Cody machine

IN THE 20 unbeaten championship games that Kilkenny have played since the start of the 2006 season, 15 different managers have attempted to stop Brian Cody's machine in its tracks.

On Sunday, Cork manager Denis Walsh will become No 16. For him, finding a way to halt the inexorable progress of the men in black and amber, is not something that rests exclusively on his head.

"I'm not going to be the one that'll find it, it'll be the players who do that," he said. "That's really what we've indicated to the players. They'll be the ones with the opportunity.

"Tactics have a habit of going out the window early on. I'm not going to be pulling any great rabbits out of the hat, I'm not going to be presuming that I'm going to come up with any genius plan. We'll be keeping it as simple as possible, really."


Cork are helped by the fact that injuries, which kept Sean Og O hAilpin, Jerry O'Connor and Shane O'Neill out of the Munster final replay loss and the quarter-final against Antrim, look to be clearing up.

"I think all the players are flying fit now," Walsh said. "Most of the boys were back last week and Shane (O'Neill) is doing serious work as well, so I think everyone is ready to go."

Whatever happens, it's unlikely the scoreline will be as lopsided as Walsh's first match in charge which saw Kilkenny win 4-26 to 0-11.

He feels that 27-point loss was not a fair reflection of the difference in quality.

"It was a once-off occasion, maybe we were all caught unawares that day, including myself. When Kilkenny got hold of us, they never let up. Maybe we've learned a bit from that and it's wised us up a small bit."

Wising up has never been a huge problem for current Cork players as they have shown mental strength in off-the-field battles as well as in matches.

"That's the one pleasing aspect about dealing with these players," said Walsh. "They have massive experience, massive hurling ability and great leadership qualities. That's what will be needed in the game. It just depends on whether you can stay in the game long enough: traditionally Kilkenny have moved out of sight at critical stages.

"Rather than being afraid of that, I'm able to look at our own team and say I'm positive about the type of player going out to represent the county. That gives me great confidence and I don't think the players will be found wanting."

Even though there are many great victories to the Cork team's credit, would a win on Sunday be its finest achievement, given the circumstances?

"I think if they won the All-Ireland this year, it would be the most rewarding medal of all," Walsh said.

"Therefore, winning on Sunday and losing after that would be a kick in the teeth, but I think, looking at the players, they're focused on just one thing, it's another game."

Irish Independent

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