Brian Cody hails 'magnificent' Kilkenny response to 'the best team in the country'

Despite a loss in the Leinster SHC final replay yesterday, the Kilkenny manager was pleased.

Brian Cody had high praise for Galway after yesterday's decider.
Brian Cody had high praise for Galway after yesterday's decider.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

KILKENNY HURLING BOSS Brian Cody hailed his side’s ‘magnificent’ response to ‘the best team in the country,’ despite their Leinster SHC final replay loss to Galway yesterday.

After 19 minutes, the Tribesmen were 11 points clear in Semple Stadium, before moving to 12 points approaching half time.

Ger Aylward’s goal reduced the deficit by the break, the scoreline reading 1-16 to 1-7. But on the restart, the Cats produced a terrific second-half fightback.

“You can talk about a game of two halves from our point of view,” Cody, the most decorated manager in inter-county hurling, said afterwards.

“We gave them a lot of leeway in the first half. We started off okay but they benefited from a lot of our mistakes in the first half and as it went on the score began to widen. It looked fairly bleak for us for a while.

“But then we got them in at half-time and they realised what they had to do. There was nothing fantastic said in the dressing room or anything like that. But the response of our players was magnificent in the second half against the best team in the country.

“We brought a huge lead down to two points and it’s very, very difficult to sustain that in these conditions. But we fought to the bitter end and they pulled away a small bit in the end and that was it really.”

Although it ended in a 1-28 to 3-15 defeat for Kilkenny, with Michéal Donoghues men successfully defending their provincial crown, Cody was pleased with his side’s effort.

“The first thing you want in a team is that absolute never-say-die attitude and I think they showed that today which is obviously the most pleasing thing,” he continued.

Brian Cody looks on Watching on: Cody on the line. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I’m absolutely certain of the character, if you like, or the spirit or the commitment or the never-say-die attitude that’s there. When you have that, you can work on other things.”

It’s a quick turnaround now as they gear up to face Limerick in next weekend’s All-Ireland SHC quarter-final.

After the first Leinster final outing in Croke Park last weekend, take two in Thurles yesterday and then looking to the road ahead, it’s a tiring schedule all in all.

“It’s obviously tough going in the conditions we’re in. It’s next weekend, last weekend and today is fairly exhausting for players.

“But the reality is we’re not going to start highlighting that because we’re just going to have to play the game. The lads are very fit, they’re in fantastic shape, they understand everything there is to understand about recovery.

“That’s what they’re focusing on right now, getting themselves ready. It will take a few days. It’s not a question of training now, it’s a question of recovering to go again.”

Cody added of the Treaty challenge: “It’s going to be a huge battle.

“Limerick were being spoken of really by lots of people as the biggest danger to Galway. We know the quality they have, they’re a top team. But we’ve just got to take on the challenge.

“If we had won today, we’d be in the All-Ireland semi-final. If we win next week, we’ll be in the All-Ireland semi-final. So I don’t mind postponing for a week if that happens.”

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Kilkenny’s 11-time All-Ireland winning manager noted that he believes there’s a full game in both Richie Hogan and Colin Fennelly, depending on how they recover from yesterday’s exploits.

Joe Canning with Richie Hogan Richie Hogan in action against Joe Canning yesterday. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The experienced duo have been held in reserve of late, but both made impacts as they were introduced from the bench at half-time and hit 1-1 a-piece.

He also confirmed that Walter Walsh — who was substituted in the 17th minute after struggling with an injury — pulled his groin.

“Obviously he’s under major pressure for next weekend,” Cody added. “If he’s available, he’s available. If he’s not, he’s not. And that’s the reality of it.”

- Additional reporting by Fintan O’Toole

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