'We're always associated with physicality - I'd say we're very skilful as well'
Brian Cody believes his men are fully intent on avenging their Leinster final defeat, writes GAVIN CUMMISKEY
THERE WAS some giddiness on the drive home from the umpteenth Kilkenny pre-All-Ireland final media night. Usually stale affairs, Brian Cody had sat down to be interviewed with an agenda. Or maybe he was captivated by the line of questioning . . . unlikely for a man of his intelligence.
He was definitely still simmering from the gruesome injury sustained by Michael Rice against Tipperary.
Cody was unusually chatty on the topic of refereeing and physicality and how he hoped the two wouldn’t cancel each other out come the final.
It wasn’t the 58-year-old giving Westmeath official Barry Kelly a public warning ahead of the final against Galway, more a shot across the bow of officialdom. The concern was that Kelly would be instructed to tighten up a sport that must be allowed to flow. “I think there could be a stupid reaction now.”
A few Tipperary players’ actions also got a lashing without being named. He suggested Kilkenny would be tarred with the same brush. “That’s the insinuation that’s there. That there is this crazy game coming up. This mad team is going out to play again.”
It wasn’t vintage Cody speak. It was completely novel Cody speak. It’s accepted he knows more about hurling than everyone in the media combined. He doesn’t bother sharing much with us, but answers any question once he feels it isn’t loaded. If he thinks it’s loaded there will be consequences.
Remember the RTÉ interview in 2009? Cody wasn’t prepared to allow the immediate aftermath of the All-Ireland final become about Diarmuid Kirwan’s penalty shout that led to Henry Shefflin ultimately steering a tight contest Kilkenny’s way and securing the four in a row. (“I can’t understand, Marty, how this discussion with me is turning into a debate about a referee.”)
He is much harder on his players, mind. They rarely speak about him. They just behave in the manner he envisages hurling should be played. With savage intensity. They got branded as dirty some years back and that sticks in his craw. “We’re always associated with physicality – I’d say we’re very skilful as well. And very disciplined as well, I would say.”
The Leinster final, while a shock to the system, wasn’t enough to tempt Cody to reinvent the wheel. Of Kilkenny’s seven championship defeats, from 60 outings during his 14-year reign, three have been at the hands of the Tribesmen. The 2001 All-Ireland semi-final loss made the Cody mantra easier to embrace. Galway were more powerful that day. The 2005 All-Ireland semi-final was western hurling at its freewheeling best. Kilkenny were obliterated yet only lost by three points.