Losing to Cork in the opening round of the Allianz National Hurling League didn’t pile any additional pressure on Kilkenny.
Everyone knew it was going to be a tough, competitive and demanding competition, and the result of one match didn’t alter things greatly.
“There is no more pressure on us after this defeat,” Brian Cody told us after a late surge by Cork in Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Saturday carried them to a thrilling 1-24 to 0-24 victory.
“It is not a knockout competition,” Cody added. “It is a league.
“We are disappointed with the result, of course, and we will be looking for improvement against Clare.”
The Banner County travel to Nowlan Park on Sunday (2pm) chasing a third successive victory over the Cats, and with the boost of a fine win over Tipperary (1-21 to 0-19) behind them.
Clare thrashed their opponents in Ennis last season, winning by 13 points in Round Two.
They also beat them by nine points in the 2016 semi-finals.
Kilkenny beat Clare by a point twice in the League in 2015, in Round 5 and later on in a relegation play-off. Both games were played in Nowlan Park.
“We will just have to drive on against Clare,” Mr Cody added. “We have to keep things going, to drive on. It is a big challenge.”
He said he was happy with everything bar the result in the clash against Cork.
The match turned in the Leesiders’ favour after a stoppage following an injury to Kilkenny captain, Cillian Buckley.
As Kilkenny struggled to regain their rhythm, Cork fired over three quick points to grab the initiative.
While the Dicksboro man was stretchered off the field, he recovered quick and all indications were that he would be ready to face Clare.
“It was a very competitive game,” Brian Cody said of the Cork clash.
“I thought we were very competitive throughout, as were Cork. They got an early goal, and that divided us at the finish. It was a real genuine game.
“We expected a good effort, decent work-rate and we got it. There was a real good spirit in the team, but that should be a given.
“Obviously if you play like that you will be disappointed if you don't win. I am disappointed with the result, but the effort was very, very good.
“The genuineness of the team was particularly pleasing,” he insisted.
He said he was not as surprised as other people might be about the way the played.
“I would have a lot of confidence in the players,” the Cats manager insisted.
“That is why they are there. They are Kilkenny senior players.”
Meanwhile, Sunday will be a huge day for the St Patrick’s (Ballyragget) club.
They contest the All-Ireland club intermediate hurling final against Kanturk (Cork) in Croke Park (3.45pm) hoping to become the second team to complete the junior and intermediate double.
Bennettsbridge won the titles in 2015 (junior) and 2016.
St Pat’s won the junior All-Ireland title in 2012.
See also page 52.
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