Kilkenny goalkeeper, Eoin Murphy, missed the Tipperary game because of a neck injury
The Kilkenny players are holding nothing back and are making the best of every chance they get to win a place on the first team, pleased manager Brian Cody has suggested.
In the wake of Sunday's thrilling win over Tipperary at Nowlan Park, which left the Cats with every chance of making the knock-outs stages of the Allianz National Hurling League, the James Stephens clubman praised the players for their application to the cause.
"We are happy with that," was Cody's response to Sunday's win, which saw his charges nip victory with a lost time point.
"I have always said we have confidence in the players from the county. They are getting an opportunity, and they realise it.
"Different fellows are putting their hands up on different days. But overall we are getting a very good return from them.
"We were being tipped for relegation not so long ago, as if we were going to go out and nearly win every match. We won the last two matches.
"Look, it is going to be hugely difficult to win the next one against Wexford. We know that. It was hugely difficult to win last Sunday, and today as well.
"We are competitive. The spirit is good. The genuineness is there. We have to try and keep it going.
"As I said, we are trying to spread the net as far as possible. It is not all plain sailing.
“Lads who played well last Sunday just don't go out and play fantastic today. That is not the real world. It is all part of the education they get in these kind of games.”
When it was suggested the Davy Fitzgerald trained Wexford had a good recent record against Kilkenny, he insisted: "I am not interested in records or statistics or whatever. Next Sunday's game will be decided next Sunday.
"We’d a great history with Wexford when we were hurling ourselves. They have always been an outstanding team in Leinster.
“It will be next Sunday, on the field again, the players deciding thing.
"Wexford are in a very good position in the League now. We are fighting to win the next game to put ourselves into contention. It has the makings of a very, very serious game."
When it was suggested Kilkenny departed from playing the short ball game on Sunday, he said you had to play the game that was in front of you.
Sunday's tie didn’t lend itself to that kind of play .
"You adapt to whatever test is put is front of you," he replied. "That is what we tried to do. Everything wasn’t perfect, but we stayed at it.
"The scoreboard was very high for both teams. There was a lot of good play from both teams, and it was a great contest."
The news on the injuries front was encouraging. Former All-Star Ger Aylward was ready to return. Conor Fogarty, was struggling to shake off a virus but was making progress.
Goalie Eoin Murphy suffered a whiplash injury, and there was no guarantee he would be ready to face Wexford.
"Ger Aylward is ready to go," Cody assured. "We are being very, very careful with him. He has put in a couple of tough years, but he has put in a magnificent effort.
"He could have played today but we weren't prepared to take a chance on him. We got a nice bit of training into him yesterday to give him a further chance."
Tipperary manager, Michael Ryan described Sunday's offering as a "cracking game”.
“When we come to play Kilkenny in Nowlan Park it is always a battle, absolutely always a battle,” he said.
“I don't think it's ever not delivered. We didn't pick up the two points. We're going home disappointed to be honest.
“I can't argue really. I thought Kilkenny, the way they engineered their scores, was that little bit easier than ours. I thought we had to work really hard to get anything.
“We might have sneaked a draw but at one point there after they put in the second goal, it wasn't looking pretty for us at all.”
But he said great credit was due to the Tipperary players, they put in a great shift.
“I think both teams put in a great shift for the time that it is, in late February,” he continued. “To be fair to the pitch out here it played like summer hurling, lads only love that.”
Did that make a difference, he was asked?
"Without a doubt, top surface. Could it possibly be better, even in the summer? The hurlers just respond to that. The ball flies. They fly.”
Both sides were missing players because of Fitzgibbon Cup commitments, but Ryan didn't mind.
“Genuinely, it wouldn’t have bothered us,” he insisted. “We are carrying almost 40 fellas. That’s why these guys get an opportunity to play. You couldn’t buy today's experience.”
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