TWELVE months of agony will be the spur as the Kilkenny intermediates go hunting for All-Ireland glory this weekend.
That’s the belief of team manager Pat O’Grady, who hasn’t had to do a lot to drive his side on ahead of their clash with old rivals Tipp.
“We haven’t had to do a lot in terms of motivating the team this year,” he said ahead of Saturday’s final in Nowlan Park (throw-in 6pm). “We have plenty of characters in our dressing-room who can stand up and take charge of things like that. They drive on everyone else.
“After losing an All-Ireland the incentive is there to go back and try to make amends for that,” he added. “That’s what they’re at - I have no doubt that if the game comes down to a battle that our lads will give a great account of themselves.”
Kilkenny made sure of their place in the final thanks to a confident win over Galway a fortnight ago. With no Leinster championship it was their first action since last year’s 3-13 to 1-17 loss to Tipp in Thurles - a long time to wait for a comeback.
“The lads were dying to get back into championship hurling again,” he said. “It was last August when we lost that All-Ireland final. A good few players in this year’s panel were involved in that game - they were dying to get back into the championship again and get those feelings of defeat out of the way.
“It’s a big game for us all,” he added. “It’s been 12 months of waiting, maybe to do something we didn’t do the last time.
“It’s going to be a massive challenge,” O’Grady noted. “Tipp have an experienced side, but we’ll give our all to win this for Kilkenny.”