The number ten plays a big part when it comes to measuring Kilkenny’s National Hurling League fortunes under Brian Cody.
Sunday’s meeting with Tipperary in Semple Stadium will be the tenth time the Cats have gone hunting for the NHL silverware in Brian Cody’s tenure.
Success on the Bank Holiday Weekend means that they will have won eight titles since the James Stephens man took the helm in 1999.
Add in the two titles he won as a player - he was part of the 1976 team that beat Clare, then captained the Cats in a 2-14 to 1-11 win over Wexford in 1982 - and a win over Tipp will give Cody ten League victories.
Semple Stadium has been a happy hunting ground for Cody as far as winning the League is concerned. Of the seven crowns he has annexed, five have been earned in Thurles - the other two being Croke Park (2003) and Nowlan Park last year.
Interestingly, Semple Stadium was also the first place Kilkenny lost a League final in Cody’s reign, going down to Waterford by 0-20 to 0-18. That was back in 2007, but they more than compensated by securing the All-Ireland that Summer.
While some counties don’t place too much faith in the League, it has proven to be a good barometer with regards to future ambitions for Kilkenny. Of the seven they’ve won in the last 12 years, five have been followed by trips to Croke Park to collect the Liam MacCarthy Cup that September.
That said, losing League finals hasn’t spelled too much doom and gloom for Kilkenny either. While they lost the 2007 final to Waterford, and the 2011 decider to Dublin, they ended both years as All-Ireland champions!
Injury-time points from Sean and Brian Dowling saw the Cats win their first NHL title under Brian Cody. The brothers made timely interventions, coming off the bench to strike the winning points and deny Cork the spoils.
Early goals from Martin Comerford and John Hoyne had helped Kilkenny open a 2-6 to 0-2 lead after the first quarter, but a Wayne Sherlock goal saw Cork cut the gap to five points by half-time. A second half goal from Eamonn Collins helped the Rebels get back on level terms. They edged in front in the closing stages, but were sunk by the Dowling double-act.
Kilkenny - James McGarry (Bennettsbridge), Michael Kavanagh (St Lachtain’s), Noel Hickey (Dunnamaggin), Philip Larkin (James Stephens), Richie Mullally (Glenmore), Peter Barry (James Stephens), J.J. Delaney (Fenians), Derek Lyng (Emeralds), Pat Tennyson (Carrickshock), John Hoyne (Graigue-Ballycallan), Henry Shefflin (Ballyhale Shamrocks), Andy Comerford (O’Loughlin Gaels), Eddie Brennan (Graigue-Ballycallan), Martin Comerford (O’Loughlin Gaels), Stephen Grehan (Fenians). Subs: Kevin Power (Fenians) for Grehan, Sean Dowling (O’Loughlin Gaels) for Tennyson, Brian Dowling (O’Loughlin Gaels) for Power.
A scintillating final quarter saw Kilkenny retain their league title when they beat Tipp in a ten-goal thriller in Croke Park.
The Cats bagged a whopping 4-4 in the last 15 minutes, enough to overtake the Premier County (Tipp had led by 3-11 to 1-10 at that stage). Martin Comerford got the ball rolling with a 50th minute goal before more three-pointers from Charlie Carter, D.J. Carey and Eddie Brennan swayed the game Kilkenny’s way.
The drama wasn’t fully over, as John Carroll goaled to edge Tipp back in front. Henry Shefflin levelled the game again with a free, then kicked what proved to be the winning point in injury-time - but only after P.J. Ryan made a fine save to deny Carroll a last gasp goal.
Kilkenny - P.J. Ryan (Fenians), Michael Kavanagh, Noel Hickey, Philip Larkin, Richie Mullally, Peter Barry, J.J. Delaney, Derek Lyng, Pat Tennyson, John Hoyne, Henry Shefflin, Tommy Walsh (Tullaroan), D.J. Carey (Young Irelands), Martin Comerford, Eddie Brennan. Subs: Jimmy Coogan (Tullaroan) for Tennyson, Aidan Cummins (Ballyhale Shamrocks) for Larkin, Charlie Carter (Young Irelands) for Hoyne.
A power-packed second half helped Kilkenny bash the Banner and claim league honours in a one-sided battle with Clare.
Although the sides were level at half-time (1-7 to 0-10), the Cats outscored the Munster men by 2-13 to 0-5 in the second half as they roared to the title.
A Martin Comerford goal helped Kilkenny romp into a 2-16 to 0-11 lead by the time the final quarter loomed. A late goal from Henry Shefflin, top scorer with 1-7, helped them close out as comfortable 14-point winners.
Kilkenny - James McGarry, James Ryall (Graigue-Ballycallan), Noel Hickey, Jackie Tyrrell (James Stephens), Richie Mullally, Peter Barry, J.J. Delaney, Bryan Barry (Dicksboro), Derek Lyng, Martin Comerford, Eoin Larkin (James Stephens), Tommy Walsh, Richie Power (Carrickshock), D.J. Carey, Henry Shefflin. Subs: Eddie Brennan for Power, Michael Kavanagh for Ryall.
Two goals from Henry Shefflin helped Kilkenny to their fourth NHL crown in five years and wreck Limerick’s run of 15 games unbeaten in Semple Stadium.
In a high-tempo game, an early goal from Eoin Larkin helped the Cats start well, but it was an injury-time strike from Shefflin that saw Kilkenny go in three points up at half-time (2-4 to 0-7).
The Cats managed to keep Limerick at arm’s length through the second half, the Treaty Men hampered by a large number of wides. Shefflin’s second goal, part of his 2-6 haul, was enough to push his side to the silverware.
Kilkenny - James McGarry, Michael Kavanagh, J.J. Delaney, Noel Hickey, Jackie Tyrrell, John Tennyson (Carrickshock), Tommy Walsh, Derek Lyng, Richie Mullally, Richie Power, Martin Comerford, Eoin Larkin, James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick (Ballyhale Shamrocks), Henry Shefflin, Aidan Fogarty (Emeralds). Subs: Willie O’Dwyer (Mullinavat) for Power, Michael Fennelly (Ballyhale Shamrocks) for Lyng.
A first league final defeat for Kilkenny under Brian Cody coincided with Waterford ending a 44-year wait for the title in 2007.
Although Henry Shefflin helped himself to 12 points, late scores from Eoin Kelly and Seamus Prendergast ensured it was a day to remember for the Deise, who denied Kilkenny a league hat-trick.
Kilkenny - P.J. Ryan, Noel Hickey, Brian Hogan (O’Loughlin Gaels), J.J. Delaney, Jackie Tyrrell, P.J. Delaney (Fenians), Tommy Walsh, Derek Lyng, Willie O’Dwyer, Eddie Brennan, Martin Comerford, Richie Power, Henry Shefflin, James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick, Aidan Fogarty. Subs: Eoin Larkin for Fitzpatrick, Eoin McCormack (James Stephens) for Fogarty.
Tipperary ..............4-17 (aet)
Strength and stamina, as well as three Richie Hogan points in the second period of extra-time, saw Kilkenny come with an late charge to dash Tipp hopes in 2009.
Tipp led for the majority of this closely-fought clash but faded badly in extra-time as their old rivals prevailed.
The sides finished in a stalemate, Kilkenny scoring 2-17 to Tipp’s 3-14 after 70 minutes. Hogan, who netted 1-10 in the game, and Aidan Fogarty grabbed the Kilkenny goals in a match where the Cats came from five points down at half-time (2-7 to 0-8).
Kilkenny - P.J. Ryan, Michael Kavanagh, J.J. Delaney, Jackie Tyrrell, Tommy Walsh, Brian Hogan, James Ryall, John Tennyson, Michael Rice (Carrickshock), Richie Hogan (Danesfort), Henry Shefflin, Eoin Larkin, Eddie Brennan, T.J. Reid (Ballyhale Shamrocks), Aidan Fogarty. Subs: Martin Comerford for Hogan, Michael Grace (Rower-Inistioge) for Comerford, James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick for Shefflin, Sean Cummins (Rower-Inistioge) for Kavanagh.
The 2011 League decider was a day to forget for Kilkenny, who crashed to their heaviest final defeat in 35 years as Dublin posted a 12-point win in Croke Park.
The loss, the biggest Kilkenny suffered since losing a Leinster final to Wexford by 17 points in 1976, saw the misfiring Cats score just 1-1 from play as the Dubs put the shackles on their opponents.
Eddie Brennan’s first half goal was the highlight of the opening 35 minutes for Kilkenny, who trailed by 0-11 to 1-2 at the interval. They failed to score from play after the restart, while points from subs Maurice O’Brien, David Treacy and Simon Lambert helped Dublin on their way to a second win over Kilkenny that season, adding the league to the Walsh Cup success over the Cats.
Kilkenny - David Herity (Dunnamaggin), John Dalton (Carrickshock), Brian Hogan, Noel Hickey, Paddy Hogan (Danesfort), Jackie Tyrrell, J.J. Delaney, T.J. Reid, Michael Rice, James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick, Matthew Ruth (James Stephens), Eoin Larkin, Colin Fennelly (Ballyhale Shamrocks), Eddie Brennan, Richie Hogan. Subs: Michael Kavanagh for Delaney, John Mulhall (St Martin’s) for Fennelly, Paul Murphy (Danesfort) for Ruth.
A fast start was half the battle as Kilkenny routed the Rebels in Semple Stadium. Scoring 2-6 inside the opening 11 minutes helped banish the memories of the 2011 loss. Early goals from Eoin Larkin and Colin Fennelly did the damage, leaving Cork heads spinning.
By half-time the Munster men trailed by 14 points, T.J. Reid adding a third goal and Paddy Hogan five points as they went in 3-11 to 0-6 up at the break.
Both sides helped themselves to ten points apiece in the second half, but the damage was already done as Cork couldn’t close that yawning gap on Kilkenny, who won without the injured quintet of Henry Shefflin, Richie Power, Noel Hickey, Michael Rice and Aidan Fogarty.
Kilkenny - David Herity, Paul Murphy, J.J. Delaney, Jackie Tyrrell, Tommy Walsh, Brian Hogan, Richie Doyle (Barrow Rangers), Michael Fennelly, Paddy Hogan, Richie Hogan, T.J. Reid, Cillian Buckley (Dicksboro), Colin Fennelly, Eoin Larkin, Matthew Ruth. Subs: Kieran Joyce (Rower-Inistioge) for Delaney, John Mulhall for M. Fennelly, Mark Bergin (O’Loughlin Gaels) for P. Hogan.
Michael Fennelly was the man of the moment as Kilkenny retained the league on home soil. Fennelly bagged two first half goals to leave Tipp reeling, but the Premier men recovered to go in all square at half-time (2-4 to 0-10).
There was little between the teams - who finished a tense encounter with 14 men apiece after red cards for J.J. Delaney and Lar Corbett - but points in the final quarter from Richie Hogan, Eoin Larkin and Cillian Buckley helped Kilkenny fashion a lead they would never lose.
Kilkenny - Eoin Murphy (Glenmore), Paul Murphy, J.J. Delaney, Jackie Tyrrell, Tommy Walsh, Brian Hogan, Kieran Joyce, Lester Ryan (Clara), Michael Rice, Cillian Buckley, Michael Fennelly, Eoin Larkin, Richie Hogan, Colin Fennelly, Aidan Fogarty. Sub: Matthew Ruth for Fogarty.