KILKENNY will swing into the new Allianz National Hurling League with a fluid squad; the make-up of the League is not for discussion now and there will be no Henry Shefflin until the summer.
Oh, and the Cats will be chasing everything again.
That was the news round up from Kilkenny manager, Brian Cody, when he spoke with the ’People on the eve of the new National League and what promises to be a cracking opening game against Tipperary in Nowlan Park on Sunday.
“The League is a huge part of our year,” insisted Mr Cody when we talked at the press conference to announce Glanbia’s continued sponsorship of Kilkenny teams. “We will be going out to do as well as we can, and that includes trying to win it. There is no point in playing if you are not interested in winning.”
Last season the Noresiders won the All-Ireland final, beating Tipperary, after losing the McCarthy Cup decider against the same opposition the previous season. The Cats also contested the League final, losing to Dublin.
Laid down marker
Now the current super powers and greatest rivals in the game will kick start the new campaign, just like they did 12 months ago when Kilkenny won in Thurles.
Looking back on that match and how the season ran subsequently, many observers suggested the Cats laid down an important marker that evening in Semple Stadium.
With both counties reportedly training harder at the moment than they might want to suggest, would there be an element of ‘message sending’ in Sunday’s clash?
“We are training for the year ahead, not specifically for the Tipp match or any other match,” was the way Mr Cody put it. “We are training to build a base of fitness over the year ahead and there is a process you go through for that.
“The level you would want to be at come championship time is different to the level anyone could be at during the League. We will take on the League, and plan beyond that for what we want to do.”
Yes, but did last year’s League opener have a bit more meaning to it, bearing in mind the All-Ireland clash the previous September? Was it a statement making day?
“It is easy to say that,” said the man who is now entering his 14th season in charge. “I don’t know if you do or don’t lay down a marker. For me it is straight forward. You go out to play, and whatever match you are involved in you want to be competitive.
“We will be competitive against Tipperary. So will Tipperary! Because of the quality in both squads the game should be good.”
Kilkenny won’t be holding back in anything this season, we suggested.