KILKENNY have won 14 national titles during the reign of manager, Brian Cody, and a ferocious appetite for the game is one of the features of the squad.
That is not surprising, according to goalie David Herity. With new people appearing on the scene all the time, the spirit in the camp is constantly being recharged.
David Herity is one of the relatively new first team players. He established himself in the No. 1 position last season, and during the past 15 months he has won Leinster, All-Ireland and now National Hurling League honours.
Others who made the breakthrough last season included Paul Murphy, Colin Fennelly and even Richie Hogan. The constant changes in personnel keeps the appetite topped up.
Different players winning
“This is great hungry in Kilkenny,” the ever smiling Dunnamaggin clubman said when we spoke on the Semple Stadium pitch after Sunday’s huge win in the League final. “A lot of people seem to forget how things work here. They say Kilkenny have won a lot. But a lot of different players are winning things.
“While a good number of the players have won a lot, different lads are coming in and they want to win as badly as the others when they came through first. Some of us never played in a League final, never mind win one.
“The League final was a big, big deal to us. We wanted to win it. If you look around the team seven or eight of the lads haven’t won a League final on the pitch. People seem to forget these things.
“We all want to win things, to win our own stuff.”
The clipping of Cork he described as “a nice performance.” He said he knew by the mood in the dressing-room before the game that something big was going to happen.
“You could sense that there was something different about the team. The players wanted to lay down a marker,” was how he put it.
“A lot of the lads stood up. A lot of the leaders came to the fore. Even the young lads coming through rose to the challenge. They are after getting a taste of success now. They got a good run in the League. They will want to keep their places on the team. You could feel that mood, the energy in the dressing-room.
“We hit the ground running. That was the bit of experience we have coming through. This was all new to this Cork team. The hooking and blocking by our forwards was unbelievable. We talked about that beforehand. We know how to close down opponents.
“You couldn’t but enjoy being involved with Kilkenny,” he insisted. “Every day you go out you are playing with great lads who are driven. Everyone is driven, from management right down. You couldn’t get enough of this.”
David has started to use the Cul Tech (plastic style) hurley because he was breaking too many ask sticks. Apparently on cold days, and especially when a new sliotar is throw-in in for puck-outs, the ask caman can shatter. David now uses a Cul Tech hurley for puck-outs, and it gives him extra distance.
“You cannot beat the old ash hurley for accuracy,” he smiled. “The plastic one is doing a job for me, though.”
You couldn’t but enjoy being involved with Kilkenny at the moment. Every day you go out you are playing with great lads who are driven, from management right down. You couldn’t get enough of this.
Matthew Ruth ploughed a golden furrow through the League campaign, and finished with 5-9 banked. It has been a hectic year for him, because on top of the involvement with Kilkenny he was also part of the backroom team that guided Kilkenny CBS to the All-Ireland colleges final.
“I enjoyed the run,” Matt said when he looked back over the campaign. “Things went well, thank God. We are looking ahead to the summer now. The competition is on again for places.
“That is what is all about, competition, competition. It is the competition within the squad that drive things on. Richie Power, Henry Shefflin, Aidan Fogarty and the others will be back for the championship so the competition for places on the team will be really intense.
“We have a month of training before the Leinster semi-final. That will decide it all. That is the way it works.
I won’t get carried away with how things went through the League, but I will be working hard to tray and make the championship side.”