There was no “if only” or “perhaps” stories from the Kilkenny camp in the wake of Sunday’s thrilling draw with teak tough Galway in the Leinster senior hurling semi-final in Tullamore.
With a crisp “game on” comment, Kilkenny manager, Brian Cody, packed away the story of the drawn tie and looked forward to the replay in O’Connor Park on Saturday (7pm).
“We were in a decent position,” the boss said of Kilkenny’s 10 point lamaead with less minutes remaining in what was generally a close fought tie. “The scoreboard was kind to us at that stage, but it only matters what it says at the final whistle.
“You can think about the finish or the game any way you like, but we are playing Galway on Saturday in the Leinster semi-final replay. That is all that matters. We played them today and the outcome was inclusive. What happened here will have no bearing on the replay.”
One suggested that Kilkenny’s hurling had been top class in the build up to amassing the 10 point lead as they shot 1-7 without replay. They hit the 62nd minute showing 3-20 to 2-13 in front, and a place in the Leinster final against Dublin on July 6 looked in the bag.
“If we could have kept going like that for another five minutes it would have been better,” was Cody’s only hint of a concession to self pity.
Kilkenny teams don’t squander 10 point leads. For the Cats to claw back 10 points would be expected, but this time Galway did a Kilkenny on Kilkenny, if you like.
Niall Healy hat-trick
The last time the county conceded five goals in the championship was against Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final of 2005. Niall Healy helped himself to a hat trick for the Tribesman that day.
Incidentally, Kilkenny’s goal count against in consecutive championship outings in Tullamore now stands at a staggering nine. They conceded four to Offaly in O’Connor Park last year when limping to victory.
“It was exciting stuff at different periods of the game,” Mr Cody said of the tie in general. “The first half was not that hectic. It was ordinary stuff. In the second half the game definitely came to life. We were very, very good for a while and obviously Galway finished very strongly.
“There were periods when we really punished them, and then they really punished us. Where it goes now we have to wait until Saturday.
“There is no lead too big to have in hurling,” he insisted. “If a team gets a goal they can get momentum and away they go. That is what happened for both teams today.
“Anyone who thinks the game is over when there is about 10 minutes left is not too clever. Hurling is a game that can change very, very quickly.
“We defended very well at times. We attacked very well at times. Likie I said, Galway played some very good hurling. The result is as it was at the start and at half time, when we were level. Overall it was a very even game.”
The James Stephens clubman said both sides enjoyed good times, and they were under pressure at other times.
“We started well in the first half,” he reminced. “Galway came back into it. Both teams scored soft goals in the first half. After that there were some very good scores for us. Then Galway came back at us.
“That is hurling. You never know. Eight, nine or 10 points is nothing. The only time the scoreboard matters is when the final whistle blows.”
Richie Power, who shook off a hamstring injury to be fit for Sunday’s match, picked up another injury. He left the dressing room on crutches.
The injury was diagnosed on Monday as a torn posterior cruciate ligament, and it could sideline the player for up to eight week. The Carrickshock man suffered the injury when his knee crashed against the ground after contesting a high ball, apparently.
Colin Fennelly had an x-ray on Monday on a sore hand. He picked up the injury against Galway. Speculation was that he suffered a finger injury.