‘The greatest manager in the history of hurling’: Brian Cody steps down as Kilkenny manager

Stalwart manager led his county to 11 All-Ireland titles since taking over in 1998

Brian Cody during his team's All-Ireland final defeat to Limerick at Croke Park last weekend. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

After 24 seasons at the helm and 11 All-Ireland wins, Brian Cody has stepped down as manager of the Kilkenny senior hurling team.

The 68 year-old led his native county to a 17th All-Ireland final, losing to Limerick last Sunday after a thrilling encounter with the three-in-a-row champions.

With the Cats winning just one minor All-Ireland in 12 years and one Under-20 (in May) since 2008, Cody had still built a young team to win the last three Leinster titles and contest two of the last four All-Ireland finals.

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In a statement released on Saturday afternoon the Kilkenny county board described Cody as “the greatest manager in the history of hurling”, a statement few would argue with.


“Brian Cody has informed Kilkenny county board that he is stepping down as Kilkenny senior hurling team manager,” the statement reads.

“Appointed in November 1998, Brian has led the Kilkenny team to unprecedented provincial and national success and is regarded as the greatest manager in the history of hurling.

“As manager, his teams have won 11 All Ireland hurling championships, including a record equalling four in a row between 2006 and 2009, 18 Leinster Championships, 10 national hurling league titles, seven Walsh Cup titles and an Oireachtas Tournament title.

“In achieving all of this success, Brian has created an unbreakable spirit among his players and teams, which has come to define Kilkenny hurling.”

The county board said Cody’s achievements would be the benchmark for hurling everywhere.

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“On behalf of Kilkenny people everywhere, Kilkenny County Board extends sincere gratitude to Brian for his lifetime of contribution to the county and the commitment and passion he brought as a player and as manager working tirelessly, with the single aim to do what was best for Kilkenny hurling.”

As a player Cody won three All-Ireland medals, one as captain, four Leinster titles and two All Stars.

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“The board would also like to acknowledge the bond Brian helped create between team management players, county board, clubs, and supporters clubs as all worked seamlessly together in preparing our teams while organising and promoting our games.

“We are aware of the huge debt we owe Brian for the wonderful successes and occasions we have enjoyed as we watched the teams he created, play and succeed.

“Wherever and whenever our games are discussed in the future, Brian Cody’s achievements will be the benchmark managers will be measured by. We wish Brian all the best in the future.”

Speculation and rumour had swept Kilkenny over recent days that Cody was on the verge of stepping down. Officials were aware of the situation but not in a position to confirm the news which comes as something of a surprise, given how close Kilkenny came to upsetting champions Limerick in last weekend’s final.

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Appointed in November of 1998, when the only name put before the county board for ratification, Cody succeeded Kevin Fennelly and took charge of a team that had just lost the All-Ireland final. His first season ended in disappointment with defeat to Cork in the 1999 All-Ireland before making amends the following summer.

It had been his practice not to make any announcement about his future each year until some weeks after the end of the intercounty season but that has always involved his staying on in the role.

Although Cody gave no inkling that retirement was on his mind in the homecoming after Sunday’s final, speculation picked up in the days that followed. And so for the first time in two and a half decades Kilkenny are on the lookout for a new hurling manager.

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue is a former Irish Times journalist

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter