Brian Cody has suggested that the round-robin provincial format makes it hard for teams to register improvement because of the constant demands of match days during the campaign.
Speaking after his latest coup, a clinical demolition of Munster finalists Clare, the Kilkenny manager explained how his team had improved out of all recognition since beating Galway four weeks ago.
“Up to the Leinster final we were playing more or less every week, which gives limited time — no time, really — for training.
“We have great emphasis on our panel at all times so that gave a chance to everyone on the panel to get out there and work for the team, to put their hands up to make a claim for a starting place.
“I know everyone wants to talk about a settled team but I make clear that I’m only interested in a settled panel, everyone fighting for their place and knowing if we put them on — who knows what team we’ll pick for the next day but whatever team we pick, is the right team to pick.”
A near perfect first half — just one wide, oddly from Man of the Match TJ Reid, whose free conversions built the platform for victory — effectively positioned the Leinster champions in the All-Ireland final.
Asked about the disappointment of losing the last two All-Ireland semi-finals and whether that had fired the excellence of the display, especially in the first half, he acknowledged that it had been an influence.
“I’d say that would be in any real genuine sportspeople’s minds at all times. You remember we were here last year we didn’t win it; we were here the year before.
“Everybody wants to get to the All-Ireland final and of course I would say in everybody’s mind and everybody’s heart, they would be saying: ‘Look it lads, we can’t afford this to happen again’ because it’s a tough feeling when you do lose it.”
Had that first half been in his estimation in the top category of Kilkenny performances with which he had been involved?
“There’s no doubt about it. It was a very, very good display for sure, yeah. You’d be very happy if you get the first half display for a full game, anytime.”