Dragging together a winning effort, at any time, is never about producing the perfect performance. Winning is mostly about hard work and effort as much as anything else.
That was more or less the message from Kilkenny manager, Brian Cody, after the Noresiders worker their socks off to quell a raging Offaly effort in the Leinster senior hurling championship in Tullamore on Sunday.
And the boss was pleased!
“It is not about the perfect performance,” Cody said after supervising his first game from the sideline in nearly two months after heart surgery. “It is about going out and being genuine in your play. If we had been less than competitive we would have been blown away.”
“Offaly presented a huge challenge,” he continued. “We expected that. Any time you come to Tullamore you expect that. Physically they are very, very strong. They have great hurler throughout the field.]
“They really put it up to us. We expected that. The response was very decent. If that aspect of your game ever disappears you are in bother.
“We were hit for four goals, which you don’t want to happen, and we didn’t score a goal ourselves. It is hard to peg back that amount, but we did, and we pegged it back well.”
On a lighter note, one suggested that the players could have made it an easier day at the office for the boss on his first day back on the sideline if they had been able to take control of the game in a more decisive manner.
“I was ready. I was ready for whatever way it went,” he smiled. “There was no problem.”
Indeed, the Kilkenny boss looked totally at easy in the dressing-room area where he was besieged by autograph hunters and people looking for pictures with their children and so on.
Heat took a lot out of players
The intense heat and ferocity of the battle took a lot out of all the players, but because of their youth and fitness, Mr Cody felt they would bounce back quickly.
“This is the championship,” said the manager of nine winning All-Ireland teams. “It is not knock-out, but it is as close to knock-out as you want it to be. For us it was knock-out because we wanted to get to the Leinster semi-final.”
The All-Ireland and National League champions now have a June 23 date with either Wexford or Dublin in the semi-final. That pair drew their quarter-final at the weekend, and the replay will be in Parnell Park on Saturday.
The additional game should be of huge benefit to both counties.
“They now have the advantage of an extra game,” Mr Cody said of that situation. “You couldn’t get better preparation. Having an extra game will be of huge benefit to them.
“It will make the players sharper, fitter, stronger. Team officials will get a chance to look at and rectify any problems they might have. We will have to be sharper and be on our toes. We will be looking for a big improvement the next day. The challenge is going to be massive”
News on injuries
The story on the Kilkenny walking wounded was – Jackie Tyrrell injured a quad muscle early on and his fitness will be assessed later; Henry Shefflin (foot) and Michael Fennelly (foot) have no chance of being fit for the next match.
Aidan Fogarty didn’t pick up an injury on Sunday, and he will be in contention for the semi-final team. “It was a good win,” Mr Cody continued. “I mean, we were playing a very, very good team. They hit us early with two goals and, you know, that puts a fair challenge in front of you. They were strong throughout the field, winning ball and playing very, very well and playing strong hurling.
“We had to respond, but we responded well and went in at half-time only a point behind. We started the second half very strongly, got some good scores, good points, and got a bit of a lead up. The game went on from there, and we came away with a decent win.”
The championship journey in Leinster ended in defeat for Kilkenny last season when Galway beat them in the final. The Tribesmen play Laois this weekend in the first semi-final. The Cats will be in action the following weekend.