Brian Cody: ‘The attitude of the players was top class’
Kilkenny manager delights in league victory after recovering from slow start to campaign
Kilkenny manager Brian Cody celebrates after his side score their second goal in their 2-23 to 2-16 Division 1A final victory over Tipperary at Nowlan Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
This is where Brian Cody lives. Another day down, another trophy up, the unabashed satisfaction of it all working out again obvious on his face. For all that Cody makes a point of seeming impervious to all the chat and frippery that goes around and comes around, you can never accuse him of not enjoying these wins. A trophy is never passé to him, which is probably why he has so many of them.
“Delighted to have won the league,” he says. “Obviously in the first half, Tipperary shaded it a bit but we got a great start to the second half, Walter [Walsh] got a great goal. The most gratifying thing for ourselves is the attitude of the players was top class, everyone who started, everyone who came in.
“At the start of every league, I always say that I would love to win the league and get as much game-time into as many players as possible. It has worked out well on both counts because we have seen a lot of players and have a decent depth to our panel.”
Back in February, Clare came here and ran up a score of 2-18 from 44 shots at goal. Tipperary’s total on Sunday was 2-16 from 24 shots. They were tackled, blacked and hooked into insignificance in just the way Cody likes. The notion that he would allow anything different – bad start to the league or no bad start – got its answer as the campaign went along.
“Well, how anyone can know who was going to be league winners in late January?” he smiles. “I certainly had no idea. Like I said at the time, I had confidence in the players that we had, the younger players coming through. Obviously it is a time for ourselves, we are blooding a lot of newer players, younger players. They are decent players but we have a long way to go, obviously.
“I think it requires ambition to become part and parcel of it. You have to decide exactly what you want to do with your sporting career. You can play club hurling, can play away, or you can challenge yourself to see where you can go in this game. Can I get to the next level? And we knew all the players coming up along – they are not new players to myself and the lads in charge of the team.
“We see them come up along, we see attitude in them, we see genuineness in them. It’s not a question of fellas who can make the ball talk or do something like that. It is a question of who are team players, who are prepared to work for the team, with very good skill as well. I think the application of players is based around real, genuine spirit but I think everyone has spirit, every team has spirit and you are going nowhere without it.”
At the other end of the corridor, Mick Ryan baulks at the suggestion that this is a replica of last year’s final against Galway. That was a non-performance, in his mind. This is different, a game where Tipperary shaded the first half but watched it drift out of reach as the afternoon wore on. Neither is good, all the same.
“We were well and truly beaten in that second half. We were in good shape for the first half. I wasn’t happy with how we were playing even at that. I just felt we were within ourselves and we weren’t showing enough urgency to face what I knew was going to come, which was a Kilkenny attack. They had all the intensity, we didn’t.
“They do that. Thinking about ourselves, yeah it’s disappointing. It’s nothing like last year, last year was a non-turn-up. This was a good contest, we were in the game and we stayed in the game. They got a four-point headstart straight after half-time and they finished with six. But they were ruthless, they took a couple of great goals and that’s what they do. They capitalise on your weaknesses and they certainly did that today.”
Ryan expects to have all his missing players back for the championship. Club activity permitting.
“Yeah, we’d have them all back in two weeks. But today is today and we don’t have them available to us. They’re making great progress and that’s the good news – that I’m able to sit here and tell you that. Having said that, we are getting into unprecedented territory with four weeks of club activity. We’ll be very much on tenterhooks until we see how that pans out and what the toll on players might be.”