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'For the first time ever, they had a different style of play' - how Kilkenny boss Cody has turned it around

Shane Dowling mapped the Cats’ last few years on this week’s edition of The42 GAA Weekly.

AND SO, KILKENNY are the kings of Leinster hurling once again.

Their 2-20 to 0-24 comeback win over Galway means the Bob O’Keeffe Cup will winter on Noreside for the first time since 2016, and for the 72nd time ever.

brian-cody Kilkenny manager Brian Cody. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

In Brian Cody’s 22nd year as Kilkenny supremo, this comes as his 16th provincial title at the helm — and probably one of the sweetest yet after his side came from the dead with two quick-fire goals, inspired by the heroics of Richie Hogan off the bench.

It also meant the Cats avoided a third straight final defeat at provincial level, a disappointment the county last suffered 99 years ago. Kilkenny now go straight into the All-Ireland semi-finals while Galway head for the quarters.

Of course, Kilkenny’s win is one of the many, many topics under the spotlight on The42 GAA Weekly, with Limerick All-Ireland winner Shane Dowling expertly detailing how their last few years have went.

Dowling joined former Kerry footballer Marc Ó Sé, as always, and explained how Cody fixed his mistakes of the past few years — a style change central to that.

“In 2016, Kilkenny played Tipperary in the All-Ireland final and Seamie Callanan scored nine points from play,” Dowling began. “He was marking Joey Holden.

“The Tipperary half-forwards went out the field, the Kilkenny half-backs followed and they left a bucket of space in front of Seamie Callanan. To my memory, Joey Hoden wasn’t taken off Seamie Callanan. Maybe it was very late on, but I don’t think he was. 

“Last year, Richie Hogan got sent off, Tipperary had a spare man and time after time, Kilkenny launched ball down into their full-forward line and it was being mopped up every time by Tipperary.

“Only for Brian Cody is who he is, he’d have been hung left, right and centre for his tactics on both days. It was so obvious in 2016 and it was so obvious last year, they were just getting the ball and launching it. It was the old Kilkenny way where the forwards are good enough, get it into them.

“I was saying to myself, ‘Any other manager now would have been caught out.’ But yesterday — and I noticed this long before Henry [Shefflin] and the lads said it afterwards in the analysis — for the first time ever, they had a different style of play.

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“They were running the ball through the lines, they were giving short ball and they were doing what every team is doing now in terms of that they weren’t just hitting them hopeless balls forward.

“Even when TJ Reid got the goal, usually what would happen is a big launch in around the edge of the square, the ball would have come in, but no, it was a 40-yard ping pass into TJ and it was impossible to defend. I think they did that numerous times.”

Dowling went on to praise the Cats’ turnaround of late, praising Cody and his backroom team which includes the great DJ Carey.

“I think Brian Cody has really adapted to the game’s style that’s there now and that was really, really evident to see — and great to see,” the Treaty man concluded. “That on top of their physicality — they have huge men on that team; John Donnelly, Walter Walsh.

“Brian Cody made some big calls. Whipping off Colin Fennelly, whipping off Walter Walsh. If you’re not pulling your weight, no matter who you are, that’s it.”

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About the author:

Emma Duffy

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