‘Boss’ should be fit for Leinster

THERE is no fear that the famous Bainisteoir bib might be retired as a mark of honour and thanks, it was simply rested for the day in Thurles on Sunday.

THERE is no fear that the famous Bainisteoir bib might be retired as a mark of honour and thanks, it was simply rested for the day in Thurles on Sunday.

And it will, most likely, be rested for the National Hurling League final in Nowlan Park on Sunday week.

Then after that, there is a good chance it could be bussiness as usual come Leinster championship time.

The Bainisteoir (manager) bib was missing from the Kilkenny sideline in Thurles, but selector, Michael Dempsey insisted there was nothing unusual going on - it was a respect issue in the camp.

Have no fear, the usual wearer in the Kilkenny camp, Brian Cody, will be back, he suggested.

“It is unlikely he (Brian Cody) will be there for the Tipp match,” Mr Dempsey continued. “He should be rarin’ to go and be fully fit for the first round of the championship.”

Doing well

That is the latest on the James Stephens man who is recovery and doing well after heart surgery, the press corp was told.

“We are not that brave that we would wear the bib in his absence,” came the reply from the trainer/coach when asked why neither himself nor his fellow selector, Martin Fogarty, donned the bib.

“That is it,” he added. “We were in contact with him during the week. He is recovery well. He has been in contact with us, and he is keeping a close eye on us.

“He was going to watch the game on TV. We wouldn’t be brave enough to wear it,” he added a second time

“Obviously in his absence he still has a huge influence over the team. The spirit and his influence is there.”

Looking forward to the Tipperary game, Mr Dempsey said he didn’t know if Kilkenny ever had a League final in Nowlan Park.

Tipp look strong

“It will be good for the fans because they won’t have to travel,” he said.

The opposition, who are looking very strong at the moment, he described as “a serious team”.

“Tipp have laid out their stall for the year,” he continued. “They have a new management structure. They have done very well in the League. They had a convincing win over Dublin.

“We are also going in the right direction. It was a good performance today, good against the breeze in the second half. We are looking forward to the League final.”

Martin Fogarty said good old fashion values like hard work served Kilkenny very well.

“It wasn’t a straight forward win,” he insisted. “For the opening 20 minutes we were on the back foot. We had the chance of a goal and it didn’t work out.

“Their goal brought off a super save. We had to pull out all the stops to turn the tide.

“We are very, very happy with the win. The workrate was 100%. That is what we always look for.

“The bounce of the ball doesn’t always favour you, but nce the work rate is high you are in with a chance.”

He felt all put their shoulder to the wheel during the entire 70 minutes.

“It is not all about playing well,” continued the Erin’s Own (Castlecomer) clubman. “It is about working hard; about grafting hard. We did that and dragged ourselves back into the game.

“The team kept at it. We are happy when we are getting hard work from the players. There is a chance of getting the result you want when you work hard.

“Our players are good at that,” he expanded. “They all play for each other. There is no player who feels he needs to be on the scoreboard.

“They try at all times to give the ball to the man in the best position. That is the nuts and bolds of what they do”

Things were coming along nicely for the League and All-Ireland champions, and with a League final appearance up the road, the season was shaping up well.

Progress the team

“You enter the League to try and progress the team and prepare for the championship,” Mr Fograty went on. “You try and get to the final if you can.

“If you get to it, you want to win it. We are in it now, so we have a 50/50 chance of winning.

“That will be our focus when the boys come back to us after playing with their clubs next week. “

Getting a home final, and with age old rivals Tipperary as visitors, was a huge boost, it was suggested.

“It is great for the county, for the County Board to get a home game,” Mr Fogarty replied. “From the players point of view, sure they will play anywhere.

“But for the County Board who have put in so much hard work and effort developing Nowlan Park, this is a nice oppportunity to show off the grounds, which are a credit to the county. It is great to get a big match like this in it.”