The championship may be the competition that sets the pulse racing for teams and fans alike, but there is a National League title up for grabs at the moment and Kilkenny want it.
Cats manager, Brian Cody guided his charges into their 10th League final during his time and they will be chasing their eight victory in that period when they face Tipperary in the decider in Thurles on Sunday week.
“We will get the maximum number of matches out of the League, which is great,” the James Stephens man said after Sunday’s strong semi-final win over Galway. “We are in the final. Obviously when you are in the final you want to win it.
“The year’s hurling revolves around the championship, and we are looking forward to it like everyone else. No ball has been struck in the championship yet. The League final is there to be won and that is all we are looking forward to at the moment.”
Panel strength would be crucial for whatever team gets through the championship, he insisted. Richie Power (hamstring) and Michael Rice (knock on ankle) sat out Sunday’s semi, but both should be ready for the final.
Indeed, the good news from the manager was that all in the Kilkenny camp should be fit as the county looks towards the big challenges the Summer is sure to bring.
Places on the team are still wide open, Mr Cody assured. One suggested that Brian Hogan’s strong performance on his return to the centre-back position on Sunday was a huge boost.
“Brian has been doing that for a long time,” Mr Cody replied. “The fact he did it again is par for course. That is why he is there. The position is as open as any other position because we have a few players in the running for the position.
“Brian played today, and he played excellently. That is something he has been doing for a long time.”
And what about the younger members of the squad?
“They have gained a nice bit of experience during the League and they are showing up well,” he said. “That is why they are there; to make the team, to put pressure on others.
“The intention all along was to give players a chance to prove themselves during the League. Things have worked out well in that regard, and now everyone is looking forward to the final. It is a bit early to be looking beyond that at the moment.”