KILKENNY are interested in winning the Allianz National Hurling League! There is no perhaps or maybe about it, they want what would be a 17th title.
Manager Brian Cody has maintained all along that the Cats were interested in retaining the title, and now with a maximum of two games to the finishing line, the intent is even stronger than it was at the start of what was always going to be an experimental campaign.
There was a time when counties shied away from going for the League in the belief that it might hinder their prospect in the championship. Kilkenny recorded five League/Championship doubles between 2002 and 2012 to bury that myth once and for all.
Cody and his fellow selectors, Michael Dempsey, James McGarry and Derek Lyng, used the eight games very well since the season began on January 19 in the Walsh Cup in Freshford, and the panel is more or less sorted for the Leinster championship.
While the door to involvement is never closed against anyone who might hit hot form in the local league/championship, the squad that will open against Offaly in the provincial championship in Nowlan Park on June 7 is more or less in place.
Now comes the sorting process, with the squad members battling it out for the 15 first team shirts! The Kilkenny regime has always insisted that current form would determine all, so long service, a fistful of medals or whatever won’t matter when it comes to team selection.
Hence the interest in finishing well in a League that has probably helped Kilkenny more than most other counties, apart from All-Ireland champions, Clare, who know their squad well and where they want to go with it.
Following the disappointment of championship 2013 when they failed to feature in Croke Park and they missed out on the All-Ireland semi-finals for the first time in 16 years, Kilkenny felt a new approach was needed.
The League semi-final against Galway is being viewed as a step on the road to recovery.