Richie Hogan - he continues to make progress on the road to recovery
‘New Kilkenny’ performed above all expectations to win the National Hurling League, but the real tests in season 2018 lie ahead.
Winning and surviving in the League was one thing, but a massive step up in performance will be needed in the Leinster championship, manager Brian Cody has warned.
“We have a lot of players who now have experience of playing National League hurling, but championship hurling is several notching above the League,” insisted the former county star when he spoke to the ’People at the official launch of the Leinster Round Robin championship.
“We have a lot of players who don’t have that experience,” he added.
Kilkenny and the other four counties in the Leinster championship face a heavy workload of four games in 27 days that will test the strength and depth of each panel.
The action begins for Kilkenny on Sunday week against Dublin in the testing environs of Parnell Park.
There will be no training between games.
During the thick of the action squad sessions will be confined to light exercises as the teams battle for a top two finish and a place in the Leinster final on July 1 in Croke Park.
Cody admitted the League worked out well for Kilkenny.
“We got to see a lot of players,” he said. “A lot of player adapted to a new level, but championship hurling is different. It is more demanding.”
He insisted that getting a good run in the ’League was always helpful and beneficial for the championship.
“There was a time when it was felt if you go well in the ’League you won’t go well in the championship,” he reminded.
“I could never see the sense in that.
“We never bought into that. We have had some success in the ’League over the years and it always helped us in the championship.”
Under the radar
While Kilkenny showed off all they had to offer during their dash to ’League honours, the Dubs operated under the radar.
They played all their game to date without the Cuala players, who put All-Ireland club championship wins back-to-back.
“We haven’t seen Dublin with the Cuala players,” the Kilkenny chief pointed out.
“We haven’t seen Dublin with a full team. I know they have the makings of a very serious team and they are willing and able to take anyone on.”
Meanwhile, the Noresiders travelled away for a short training camp at the weekend.
Paul Murphy and Colin Fennelly, who are playing catch up after serving over seas with the Irish Army, got some serious hurling under their belt and both are making decent progress.
Former Hurler of the Year, Richie Hogan, added to his hurling programme of recent times on Saturday and all went well, apparently.
See also pages 46, 47 and 48.