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Who are the contenders to take over Kilkenny after Brian Cody's exit?

Cody has been at the helm for a staggering 24 senior inter-county seasons. It is a huge appointment for Kilkenny.

Updated Jul 23rd 2022, 4:04 PM

FOR THE FIRST time in 24 years, Kilkenny are on the hunt for a new senior hurling manager. Brian Cody’s remarkable reign is at an end. 

Cody took over from Kevin Fennelly who resigned after guiding Kilkenny into the 1998 All-Ireland final where they were defeated by Offaly. His successor will arrive in a similar position after the Cats lost out against Limerick in this year’s decider. 

john-kiely-and-brian-cody Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Interestingly, Cody was one of the few local candidates willing to interview for the role and prepared to do it for nothing more than normal expenses. With an outstanding list of possibilities within the county, it is inconceivable they would look elsewhere now. 

So who are the leading contenders to assume the vacant role?

Derek Lyng 

The Emeralds club man played for the county at U21, intermediate and senior level. He was a Leinster selector for the Railway Cup in 2012 and served his apprenticeship under Cody as a selector for six years until 2019. 

Lyng recently led the U20s to a gutsy win over Limerick to claim their first All-Ireland title since 2008. Of the available contenders, he is the stand-out choice. 

Henry Shefflin

He couldn’t, could he? 

The current Galway boss recently enjoyed a successful debut year, reaching an All-Ireland semi-final where they ran eventual champions Limerick close. 

Shefflin was one of the county’s greatest players. As a manager with his club Ballyhale Shamrocks, he was also an All-Ireland winner in 2019 and 2020. 

He stepped down as Shamrocks manager shortly after the second All-Ireland, having been appointed for – and serving – two years.

It would leave Galway in an unfortunate position and would be coming off the back of the tense post-match handshake circus. Unlikely? No doubt. Then again, this time last year, who saw his appointment out west coming?  

Eddie Brennan

Brennan was a four-time All-Star as a player and after a successful stint as Laois manager, has been linked with Waterford and Dublin vacancies in recent weeks. 

Famously, he did serve as Kilkenny U21 manager, overseeing their shock 2016 Leinster championship defeat against Westmeath. However, it should be noted a year later they won a Leinster championship and lost out to a superb Limerick in the All-Ireland final under his guidance. 

In December 2020, Brennan was announced as a new coach at Cuala alongside manager John Twomey. In 2022 he has worked in media during the hurling championship. 

DJ Carey 

dj-carey Source: Evan Treacy/INPHO

A county legend with an extensive CV across club, county and Fitzgibbon hurling.

He took charge of the U20s for two years and won a Leinster championship. Carey joined the Kilkenny backroom after Michael Dempsey’s departure in the wake of the 2019 All-Ireland final defeat to Tipperary but left after one year. He has been long linked with the role, although his son Michael’s involvement may complicate matters. 

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During a superb playing career, Carey won five Celtic Crosses and no fewer than nine All-Star awards.

David Herity

The Kildare boss and former Kilkenny goalkeeper Michael Fennelly is another interesting option. Previously, he worked with DIT’s Fitzgibbon Cup team for 2019, assisted by JJ Delaney.

Kildare GAA confirmed a three-year term extension with review after two years in August 2021. The Lilywhites powered past Mayo to be crowned Christy Ring Cup champions last May and will compete in the Joe McDonagh Cup for 2023. 

Michael Fennelly

michael-fennelly Source: Ben Whitley/INPHO

The 37-year-old was an outstanding midfielder under Cody. Fennelly won his first All-Star in 2010 and was Hurler of the Year in 2011.

In 2019, he took over as Offaly hurling manager. They secured the Christy Ring Cup in 2021 and missed out on a Joe McDonagh Cup final this year on scoring difference. 

Others… 

The contenders above are all local, natives who have enjoyed careers intertwined with the fortunes of Kilkenny teams. For a host of reasons, high-profile outside candidates are unrealistic. Coaches who served as selectors under Cody including James McGarry and Martin Comerford may also be looked upon favourably. 

About the author:

Maurice Brosnan

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