Cody had forecast a bright day

 

Among the many surprised faces in the aftermath of Sunday's second quarter-final at Croke Park, one face seemed a picture of prophetic I-told-you-so vindication. While the Wexford and Limerick supporters wallowed in their unexpected fates, Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody felt a tingle of satisfaction.

It was Kilkenny who had crushed Wexford hearts just three weeks previously, and Kilkenny who had helped earn Limerick the honour of favourites. Yet, Cody had expected nothing less than a win for the beaten Leinster finalists.

"No, I wasn't the slightest bit surprised," he said yesterday. "I said straight after the Leinster final that Wexford had a very good chance coming through the quarter-final. I felt they would come back and I fully expected them to win. "We ended up coming through the Leinster final comfortably in the end, but people seemed to forget Wexford were creating a lot of chances, but just not putting them away. We won well but if Wexford had converted just some of their chances then it would have been a lot closer."

The last-gasp win for Wexford, it was said, would mean a much-needed boost for Leinster hurling. Cody, however, wondered what all the talk was about. For him, the suggestion that Leinster hurling was in a start of crisis just didn't add up.

"You had people saying that things weren't going as well in Leinster, and criticising the state of hurling in Wexford, but I don't think they were correct in what they were saying.

"Some teams were not going as well in this championship but to suggest that Leinster hurling is in a state of crisis is wrong.

"A few of these people high in media circles were saying that Limerick were big favourites, and everyone seemed to latch on to that and assume it was correct. Those people seem to just say those things because they are not under any pressure to be accountable or even factual."

The notion that Kilkenny are miles ahead of the rest of the province - and country - is also something that leaves Cody wondering. If Leinster hurling is in such a state of crisis, then why aren't Kilkenny winning everything? "I don't believe there is this huge gap between Leinster and Munster hurling. You might have five counties in Munster with the chance of winning the title but if Leinster hurling is in a state of crisis, then how come we saw Wexford beat Kilkenny in the under-21 championship?

"We also saw Offaly win the minor and under-21 titles last year. I think it's ridiculous to say Leinster hurling has hit a crisis."

As the situation stands, the All-Ireland championship could produce an All-Leinster final for the third time in four years. If Wexford get past Tipperary, and Kilkenny see off Galway, then, like Offaly-Kilkenny in 1998 and again last year, the final would be a repeat of the preceding Leinster final.

For the time being, though, all Kilkenny's thoughts are focused on Galway. Cody also took the opportunity on Sunday to get a preview of the western challenge but unfortunately, the limited contest didn't reveal much.

"Well, unfortunately, it was no test for Galway," he said. "They brushed them aside quite easily but it was a poor reflection on Derry's breakthrough of the last couple of years. I think it's fair to say that they learnt nothing about themselves and we learnt nothing about them.

"But we've got three weeks now and we will be putting in some very good work. We've had our major share of injuries right now and with a bit of luck we can leave those behind us."

One injury concern that Cody has left behind him is John Power. The influential centre forward missed the Leinster final win over Wexford with a groin injury but has returned to full training in recent weeks.

Having come through a game for his club, John Lockes, at the weekend, Power is back in contention for his starting place.