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Kilkenny boss Cody on League aspirations, sweepers & being 'one-dimensional'

The all-conquering Cats supremo is aiming to keep it simple again this year.

Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

KILKENNY SENIOR HURLING boss Brian Cody has insisted that the Cats will not be compromising their own principles if faced with the sweeper system again this year.

Kilkenny had to work hard to see off Waterford in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final, as the Déise operated with Tadhg de Búrca in the sweeper role.

Cody noted that the Young Hurler of the Year was “on a hell of a lot of ball” but Kilkenny still managed to fashion a six-point win as their attacking arsenal proved too powerful.

Cody reflected: “Each manager or coach brings their own thoughts to the game, to the tactics they want to apply. It’s up for grabs.

You can play two, three or four sweepers if you want to and you bring whatever you want to the thing. Nothing is cast in stone except you have to play with 15 players.

“That’s everybody’s right. Personally, whatever team I’d be involved with, with the club or Kilkenny, I could never see myself employing an actual sweeper, but who knows? At the end of the day, I’m concerned about what I do.

Tadhg de Búrca in action against Kilkenny at Croke Park. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“I’ve seen it happen and it can be successful for players, and for teams, but it’ll be interesting to see where it goes this year.

“Regardless of what kind of tactics a team employs, you have to face up to whatever’s in front of you.

Waterford used a sweeper system last year, Tadhg de Búrca played that role and he was on a hell of a lot of ball.

“What did they do? They won the League, came close to a Munster championship, made an All-Ireland semi-final and had a serious game with us. They were very competitive.

“Other than that, I don’t know what other teams used it in intercounty last year. Clare might use different systems – I suppose we’re one-dimensional!

“I wouldn’t cast any aspersions on anyone, I’d be silly if I did.

“If we’re playing a match and the opposition employs a sweeper system, then that’s a challenge for us to try to deal with that.

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“If they employ an orthodox 15 on 15, that’s another challenge. Pontificating on whether they should or they shouldn’t, that’s not for me.”

Kilkenny captain Lester Ryan lifts the League trophy in 2014. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Kilkenny begin the 2016 campaign away to Waterford tomorrow week aiming for a fourth League title in five seasons.

The Noresiders won three-in-a-row from 2012-2014 but needed a relegation playoff victory over Clare last year to preserve top flight status.

“We’ve proven historically that we’ve always taken it seriously, but the reality about it now is that it’s so competitive, every game, every team you play it’s a serious game, coming every week,” said Cody.

And that’s fine. It’ll be the same approach really – we’ll want to win it, and to look at players, panel options. That’ll be the approach.”

Kilkenny still managed to overcome a sticky Spring campaign with another blistering summer, finishing as All-Ireland champions in September for a second successive year.

And Cody reflected: “I wasn’t thinking ahead, I wasn’t thinking ‘September’, I was thinking of the next game.

Cillian Buckley's late point preserved Kilkenny's Division 1A status against Clare. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“We were in the relegation game, it was as simple as that. We played Clare the week before the relegation game and then we had to go and play them again – two serious games.

“We hadn’t been performing terrifically well up to that. The first day out against Cork we did well, but after that we were struggling a bit. But it was never a question of panic or anything like that.

“The championship goes ahead a few weeks later and we’d always have confidence in our panel, no matter who’s missing. That’s not a confidence we’ll win something, a confidence that we’d be competitive. And that’s the plan again this year.”

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