THE city businessman is involved in all undertakings by his beloved Rower-Inistioge club, and he is well versed on all hurling matters in the county. The big prize is still there for Kilkenny, he insisted.
“I felt that our lads were very nervous for the initial 15 minutes or so. Galway came storming out of traps, and they caused us to lose our focus a bit. They brought their Leinster final game to All-Ireland day, and many thought that it wouldn’t work again, but it did.”
Did the former All-Ireland winning under-21 captain of 1977 consider that the favourites tag could have been a contributory factor in the Cats nervousness?
“No at all. Sure these lads have been travelling the road for such a long time nothing like that could phase them. I mean they have been raging favourites on more occasions than they have been underdogs, and their record speaks for itself.
“What might have got through to some of them is the fact that there was so much rubbish going about that Kilkenny were at great odds with the bookies to win by so many points, and apparently, there is a huge culture about spread betting.”
Would you feel that some might have viewed that there was something unreal about the Leinster final result, considering that Kilkenny had murdered Galway in the League earlier in the year?
“Again I’m not altogether sure that the lads or management would have bought into that kind of loose talk. As Brian Cody said after the Leinster final, there was no doubt that Galway were well deserving of the Leinster victory because they played the better hurling on the day. What people seem to forget is that Galway have been producing excellent under-age teams for many years, and they are always capable of producing fireworks on any given day.
“We in Kilkenny have been on the end of some of those fireworks, and so have counties like Cork, Tipperary, Offaly, Limerick and so on. So they are not a one-trick pony by any stretch of the imagination.
“Anthony Cunningham came in with a fair pedigree, got rid of some of the shapers, put in long hours of effort, and got his team to win a Leinster final and qualify for an All Ireland final. It has been a great year for him really.”
Could he see Kilkenny winning the replay?
Revert to regular system
“I can always see Kilkenny winning, and I think they can win on Sunday week. We are still the best hurling team in the country, irrespective of what happened the last day, and whatever happens the next day for that matter. We must revert to the system in which we have become such experts.
“We don’t need J.J. out around the centre of the field marking Joe Canning. Every one of our defenders played in every one of the defensive positions last time. We are great when we pick up the man closest to us, full stop. I feel too that if we get a little better return from Richie Power, Eoin Larkin, Mick Fennelly, Aidan ‘Taggy’ Fogarty in helping Henry we will win.
“I also feel that we need to be scoring regularly from long distances. That being said, we have a great bunch of men carrying the colours of which we are all proud, and we will still be hugely proud of them after the game irrespective of the result. I still think we will win though.”.