Kilkenny manager Brian Cody and Dr. Tadhg Crowley after the Leinster final between Galway and Kilkenny at Croke Park.
Kilkenny manager Brian Cody and Dr. Tadhg Crowley after the Leinster final between Galway and Kilkenny at Croke Park.

Cody happy to take any path to victory

By Kevin Egan

Earlier this morning, Laois GAA historian Eoin Culliton tweeted from his @GAA_stats account that:

“We can't be too far from the first 80-point hurling championship match. We've had seven games top the 70pt mark in the past two years”.

An 80-point game might be on the cards some time soon, but the Leinster Final was a defensive battle where space was at a premium at both ends, and ultimately it was the metronomic freetaking of TJ Reid, not to mention the Ballyhale man’s ability to win those frees, that secured Kilkenny’s victory.

“It doesn’t really matter as long as you win it” was how Brian Cody felt about the type of contest that unfolded.

“TJ’s free-taking tonight was absolutely immense and was so important” he said.

“I think we defended very well all over the field. I thought the forwards defended very well, put great pressure on their back-line, which is of course crucial for our backs. Our backs have been consistently good and again we were strong everywhere.

"If we had been less than completely competitive and efficient in any area of the field, we wouldn’t have won because the opposition was a quality team. But I think our attitude, our work-rate and our genuineness and attitude and honesty right through the field was top class.

Between the 41st minute and deep into second half stoppage time, TJ Reid dead balls were Kilkenny’s only scores. But if that was the path to victory, Cody was still very happy to see his players follow it, rather than to deviate.

“Well, we could have got eight or nine from play and lost the game and that would have concerned me. I’m not in the slightest bit concerned about what happened because it was a night when you had to put your shoulder to the wheel” he replied.

The next challenge for Cody, for Kilkenny, and of course for whoever emerges from this afternoon’s Munster Final with the Mick Mackey Cup in their possession, is to manage the upcoming four-week break between games.

It’s a scenario that Kilkenny have managed well in the past, and their veteran manager is happy to seize the opportunities that break will provide.

“I’m happy to have the four week break at this stage because it has been very intense” said Cody.

“There has been very little time for training at all, from the point of view of working at things in training and just building a whole sense of being ready for the challenge. We have that opportunity now, to use the time to recover and really prepare well.