THE result wasn’t what Kilkenny wanted, but Oscar Traynor manager Ollie Walsh believes the Cats are on track to achieve their long term goals.
“This year was always about seeing whether we could get the interest back in the competition and then taking it on from there,” he said. “This was a positive performance. We switched things around a bit and gave a good display.”
Walsh was speaking in the aftermath of Sunday’s 2-0 loss to Waterford. Defeat might have ended their interest in this year’s competition, but he believes it won’t be long before Kilkenny are contesting finals once more.
“Kilkenny will be back in finals again soon without a shadow,” he stated. “There is the nucleus of a serious team here - we just need to get the preparation levels back to where they should be. The attitude of the players has been extremely good and there were plenty of positives to take from the game.
“We had five or six good chance but we seemed to be missing that killer instinct,” he said. “As regards the commitment and the effort put in by the lads, there was no questioning of that. It was super.”
The involvement of Ollie and Billy Walsh has helped revive the team, but the manager reckons the competition must also be looked at.
“I was speaking to some of the officials from Waterford after the game and they feel the same thing,” said Walsh. “It’s becoming stale, it’s hard to go play the same teams year in, year out. I think it should go back to the old way of running the competition, which was on a knockout basis. It was a great cup competition, which is what it should go back to.
“When I played in it you knew that when you went out to play on a Sunday morning that you had to had to win this game and that was it,” he added. “Waterford are in a situation where scoring difference means a draw might be good enough for them when they go down to Wexford. How do you prepare for that? It’s not fair on players, and it’s not a fair format for the competition. Make it a five or six team league or go back to the old knockout way, which is the route I’d prefer.”
Whatever happens, Walsh remained positive that Kilkenny has some serious players emerging.
“The young talent is there in Kilkenny,” he said. “Look at the bench we had on Sunday - Edward Nugent, Lee Delaney, Declan McQuillan, Chris Whearty, all players under 25. They are all young men, which hopefully will give us something we can build on.”
And that means staying in charge of the team, which Walsh is keen to do.
“It has to be ratified, but after the game we spoke with some of the League officials,” he said. “The feeling among the players is that they want it to happen, and the League officials want us to stay on. If that’s the case we’d be more than delighted to do so. We will need to start back earlier next season, so hopefully we can take things on from there.”