KILKENNY may have been left feeling down after Sunday’s defeat to Wexford, but the manager Ollie Walsh is determined that the Oscar Traynor dream isn’t over just yet.
“We are by no means out of this competition,” he said. “We’ll go down to Waterford determined to put on a good show and see where it takes us.”
A late Leighton Gleeson goal saw the visitors get this season’s tournament off to a winning start.
“It was a killer goal to concede,” he said. “We had done all that hard work and then got caught by that third goal. In fairness, it was a great strike from the edge of the box, but we were a bit naive at times. At this level you’ll get punished for that, but the things that happened in the game can be worked on. It’s not detrimental - we’ll be working hard for the next three weeks and see where things take us from there.”
However, the Kilkenny boss believes that his side were far from outclassed over the 90 minutes.
“It was a good game,” he added. “We just didn’t take our chances; they did. That’s what it comes down to when you’re playing at this level.”
As it was, it could have been a different game had the Cats taken some early chances in what Walsh agreed was a ‘game of two halves’.
“We should have been two up before they got into the game,” he said. “That was probably the difference.
“Joey (Mulcahy) had a good chance but the goalkeeper made a great save after four minutes, then Aiden (Keenan) hit the crossbar a few minutes later. If either of those chances had gone in it would have been a different game as Wexford would have had to come out at us.
“They were a good side,” he said of the visitors, “and well organised, but I felt that in the second half our performance was super. We were a little all over the place before the break but the lads really dug in after the break.
“The changes we made at half-time certainly helped, but we were hit by the absence of Niall Andrews and Derek Brennan through injury. Niall was a huge loss at this level - he would have been a major plus for us in the middle of the park but the lads who came in did really well. Damien (Raggett) did really well when he came on, while young Declan (McQuillan) was more effective when moved out to the right.”
In a real plus for the local game, the manager wasn’t afraid to bring young players into the game at different stages and bring a good blend to his side.
“Robert Skehan gave a great display in the second half while Lee (Delaney) did well until we had to take him off with an ankle knock at half-time,” said Walsh. “The older heads also played their part - you have to have guys like Damien (Raggett) and Michael (Falsey) there as you want to have the mix right.
“Hopefully we can do it, and let the players see that we want to do things the right way. Do that, and they’ll want to play in the competition.
“That was our agenda for this year,” he said. “We knew that we would be up against it when we played Wexford. They are a highly-rated side, and people could see how well they played as they have been together since the beginning of August.”
One of Walsh’s key beliefs is that you have to get a team together early, something he has achieved since taking over the reins with brother Billy.
“We’ve had the lads together for little over a month,” he said. “As this is our first year in charge we just wanted to have a look at the competition, and let the players see that something could be done in it. Hopefully they’ll see that this is good system in operation and perhaps next season more will want to join up.”
That said, there still remains the matter of a game in Waterford to deal with.
“By no means are we out of this competition yet,” he added. “We have another three weeks to prepare as best we can for the Waterford game. Hopefully we can get a result in Ozier Park and see what happens after that.”