Brian Cody praises Kilkenny’s defensive masterclass

Manager highlights number of key blocks in replay victory over Tipperary

 

Hurling works the way Brian Cody and Kilkenny mould it. This we know only too well.

A joyless, emotional and engaging Eamon O’Shea is followed into the press room by his counterpart from Kilkenny.

Rarely one to play the media game, we know his cup of happiness was overflowing cause we saw him dancing a jig on the field as Lester Ryan leathered out his entire acceptance speech as Gaeilge.

Ryan embodies the Cody way; a sub goes up to collect the Liam MacCarthy cup.

If 2012 was the sweetest All-Ireland final victory – having recovered from a Galway blitz to win the replay – where does today rank?

“2012 was the sweetest in 2012. That’s the way it works. This one is the sweetest now. Because it is win on today. That’s the way it works.

“Each win is the sweetest when it happens. It is not a question of the sweetest. Today was brilliant because the performance was excellent.”

After the Leinster final Cody’s biographer asked him to compare this group and the current progress to the “peak years”.

Cody informed us that a peak year was when you win the All-Ireland.

“So we are peaking then. It was a good day to peak. The championship is up for grabs every year so we take on the challenge. We did it. We didn’t get to where we needed to last year. Questions were asked of us so we took on the challenge again and this is where we ended up.”

Defence won this for Kilkenny. That and the Power brothers – Richie and John – and the Fennelly brothers – Colin and Michael– all of whom landed crucial scores at pivotal moments.

“I thought the defending today was absolutely magnificent,” Cody continued. “I thought the standard of defending was on a level that probably is difficult to see. The closing down, the blocking, the game was on 30 seconds and we got in three blocks at various ends of the field.”

He redesigned Kilkenny’s half back line for this match and the might of Kieran Joyce and Pádraig Walsh destroyed so much of what Tipperary needed to do.

“That typifies what hurling is about. For me that is the best skill in the game.

“I thought the defending, the block downs were magnificent right to the very end. And they had to be.”

Then there was JJ Delaney hooking of Séamus Callanan. This ensured a certain Tipperary goal came to nothing, all due to the brilliance of a man who now owns nine All-Ireland medals.

“JJ’s hook, you could talk about that forever.

“It was just a magnificent piece of defending.”

The question alone prompts the ire of Cody.

“As we are so often told our defenders are very, very slow. For JJ Delaney, who is absolutely beat now and can’t run, to get back and hook a player who is a speed merchant. But we work a lot on speed, Henry and the lads there, to keep him quick.”

Cody blows hard as Henry Shefflin giggles beside him but he’s in stride now, belting lumps off the media moments before climbing aboard the champions’ bus.

“You’d want to know what you’re talking about when you write those things. Run at our lads and you’ll slaughter them. You would want to realise that it doesn’t work like that.”

Hurling works the way Cody and Kilkenny mould it. This we know only too well.

Both men sit there with the same 10 All-Irelands. Cody also gathered three as a player.

“Henry’s achievement is the one to talk about. The manager is still as young as ever! The player gets older and it is a different thing.

“Henry is challenged in every single possibly way; from a physical, and not so much a psychological but a physical point of view because he has gone through the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune with injury. And he is still here at this level and challenging for his place.

“He deserved what he achieved; winning his 10th All-Ireland on the field of play. That’s just mind boggling.

“For a while I thought it might never be done again but there are a few creeping up behind him. It is a magnificent time for Henry and some of the other players.”

Magnificent but the end? They would not say.

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