# response
'It was because I was absolutely gutted' - Fennelly explains reaction to substitution
The Kilkenny captain says he doesn’t dwell on what others read about his response to being taken off against Galway.

COLIN FENNELLY SAYS he didn’t dwell on how others perceived his look of disappointment after being substituted in Kilkenny’s Leinster SHC final win over Galway.

gaa-hurling-all-ireland-senior-championship-series-national-launch David Fitzgerald / SPORTSFILE David Fitzgerald / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

The Cats captain was withdrawn in the 51st minute, as Richie Hogan inspired Brian Cody’s side to a two-point win.

Fennelly was held scoreless before he was replaced by Liam Blanchfield, and cut a disconsolate figure as he made his way off the pitch.

Ireland rugby captain Johnny Sexton was criticised after expressing his disappointment when he was hauled ashore in their Six Nations defeat to France earlier this month.

Sexton initially defended his actions in the aftermath of the game, before apologising to head coach Andy Farrell over the incident which was caught on camera.

Fennelly says his reaction to the substitution was related to his disappointment in his performance, and that he’s not worried about what others might have seen in his body language.

“I don’t think it would be something you would be conscious of,” Fennelly responded when asked if he considered what others thought in that moment.

“You’re playing a Leinster final, you’re in the moment and if you’re thinking like that you’re not in the right frame of mind for a Leinster final.

Me walking off, if I [looked] disappointed it was because I was disappointed — because I was absolutely gutted.

“I was certainly hugely disappointed with my own performance. I don’t think I contributed enough for the team in the game so certainly that was hugely disappointing.

“I was speaking to Wally [Walsh] after the game and he was saying how disappointed he was and I was like, ‘Sure Wally, you’re not going to be happy so why have a smile on your face?’ That’s just the way it was and after the game I was absolutely delighted.

“The last 15 minutes was such a huge performance. For me, to get my hands on the cup was a dream come true and I was absolutely delighted no matter how I played. At the end of the day, it’s a team and panel performance on any given day.”

colin-fennelly-lifts-the-bob-okeeffe-cup-with-his-team-as-leinster-senior-hurling-champions Ryan Byrne / INPHO Fennelly lifting the Bob O’Keeffe Cup after Kilkenny's victory in the Leinster final. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

While Fennelly might have given an off-colour performance against Galway, his 2019 championship yielded a second All-Star for the Ballyhale Shamrocks attacker.

He recalls his struggles with form over the past few years in a Kilkenny jersey, and points to a conversation he had with Henry Shefflin which helped reignite his game as a full-forward.

“Henry had taken over with Ballyhale at the time, he just spoke to me, said “what do you think?”

“I just said, ‘I maybe need to focus on one thing.’ He said, ‘look, I want you to play full-forward for the year and really focus on that.’ At times you’ll be in on that but that’s your main focus. Henry did a lot of work with me on that. 

That’s three years ago now at this stage. I probably need to rethink things again. Again, from club to county, it’s a huge step up. There’s a huge difference there. But that certainly helped get my focus back on track. Things are always changing.”

Fennelly shares the full-forward line with another Ballyhale Shamrocks star in TJ Reid.

Reid pocketed 1-10 in that comeback victory over Galway and has proven to be a player who consistently delivers for Kilkenny. Hurling pundit Michael Duignan has even suggested that he is the greatest hurler he has ever seen, which would put him in a league that surpasses Shefflin.

“I won’t be answering that one,” says Fennelly, unable to choose between the two Kilkenny greats.

“They’re two neighbours. What they’ve done for Ballyhale and Kilkenny and for hurling is just absolutely amazing. 

“I’m so fortunate to be able to train every day with these guys. I played with TJ since I’ve been a kid. It’s been amazing, the things I’ve seen him do over the years. the games he’s won for us. The experience of hurling out of Henry is unbelievable – I probably have a lot to thank Henry for where I am at the moment.

“He’s just been a leader. TJ has certainly taken over that role.”

tj-reid-scores-a-goal Ken Sutton / INPHO Reid scoring a goal against Galway. Ken Sutton / INPHO / INPHO

Kilkenny’s Leinster final victory was Brian Cody’s 16th provincial title as their manager. And in his 22nd year at the helm, he continues to keep Kilkenny in contention for All-Irelands, with another semi-final on the way against Waterford this Saturday.

Some of Cody’s former hurling students are making great strides in management, but Fennelly says there’s no doubts about Cody’s future as boss.

“There’s no vibe whatsoever. I think it was a few years ago that people talked about it; I don’t think they talk about it anymore, to be honest. There’s no vibe whatsoever. He’s there and he’s boys coming in like DJ Carey, Martin Comerford, Micky Comerford coming in as a trainer and then the experience of James McGarry there which is just huge for Brian Cody.

What Brian Cody has done for Kilkenny hurling has been immense and what he is doing is immense. There is no sign of him going away, we don’t want him going away and there is so much opportunity.”

Colin Fennelly was speaking at the GAA Hurling All Ireland Series National launch.


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