Leinster champions, Dublin, are next up for Kilkenny in the National Hurling League, and against perhaps the most physically strong team in the country, and on a tight Parnell Park pitch, the challenge will be different again for the visitors.
Saturday’s (7pm) shoot-out will be played under lights, which will add another element to the challenge for Kilkenny, who will continue with the rotation of players programme that is to be followed during the campaign.
The Cats played their last two games at Nowlan Park and they turned in strong showings. The Parnell Park pitch will present a challenge of a different kind, however.
“It is a tight pitch, and it will be a very difficult game,” offered Kilkenny manager, Brian Cody, when asked about the champions next assignement. “Dublin are very strong physically and they are very good hurlers. It is a great game to be getting right now. We are meeting them on the back of two fine wins, which is a good time for the squad. It will be a very tough match, which is the way things are going to be in the League. A lot of players are getting an opportunity to stake a claim for a place in the team, and they are reacting very well.”
The players, all the players, have to be ready when the call comes, Mr Cody insisted.
“There is no point in having a player on the panel if we are afraid to put him out there in matches,” he continued when asked about the rotation policy being followed by the selectors. “We want to look at players. They can’t just come into the panel and stay there and be part of it.
“The ambition always has to be to try and get into the team. That opportunity is being given to players. The reality has to be that fellows want to get into the panel, and then the team. That is what they are about. No one can take anything for granted.”
Mr Cody said Kilkenny were happy enough with Sunday’s showing against Galway, which followed on a win over Tipperary and a defeat against All-Ireland champions, Clare. Two wins leaves the Cats on course to make the quarter-finals.
“I said at the start of the League that we would try and look at players to build as strong a panel as we possibly can for the championship,” he added. “There’s a lot of players getting game time and we are happy with them. The attitude continues to be top class.”