Flashback: 2014 All Ireland SHC Semi-Final - Kilkenny v Limerick
By Cian O’Connell
It was one of those memorable Croke Park matches. The skies darkened, tension was in the air with the result in doubt until the bitter end.
Ultimately, Kilkenny won the war, but it was a supreme battle. Limerick didn’t want to trade in moral victories, but they could leave Croke Park fully aware that every sinew had been strained.
In his post match television interview TJ Ryan, animated and passionate as ever, found the words to acknowledge the painful manner of the loss.
"We gave it everything for the last number of weeks and months,” Ryan reflected. “It's difficult to take. That's hurling; that's sport; that's life.”
Cody’s Cats, though, as they so frequently do, found a way to survive. Despite the wicked elements, Kilkenny stayed the distance.
“Tough conditions, it wasn’t a day you were going to do something terrific with the ball, but we were tested and we came through, thank God,” Cody remarked afterwards.
“It’s not all about doing something wonderful, or playing flowing hurling, which the conditions weren’t conducive to. We were a real team out there today, which is a good thing to be. It’s a tough one for them to lose and a great one for us to win.”
Throughout the decades Cody has spoken about the need for a ‘genuineness’ and this was an occasion when that was required.
“It was excellent defending, a hook and a block and closing down, non-stop backing each other up,” Cody stated. “It was the genuineness from everybody – Colin Fennelly took a ball off our goal-line almost at one stage, and he was in the full-forward line then. That willingness to chase defined us, I suppose.
Kilkenny’s cause was also assisted by the introduction of Richie Power and Henry Shefflin. “That’s been going on for us right through the year, we have a decent panel and the lads came in,” Cody continued. “Richie was out a long time but he was moving well in the weeks he was back.
“His aerial ability was important a few times there for us and his overall skill. Henry always contributes when he comes on. It’s a great time for the whole county. To be preparing for an All-Ireland final is enjoyable.”
The thought of not reaching the decider is what drove Kilkenny according to Cody. Avoiding a harrowing reversal was the mission.
“If you start thinking about something you won before, what good is that to you today, or this year?,” Cody wondered. “Our previous victories mean nothing right now if we had to leave here today.
“The fact that we might have won at other times wouldn’t be any good to me or to the lads either. It would be just sheer absolute devastation when you lose a game like that, and that’s what Limerick are experiencing. We didn’t want to experience that.”
“It was as hard as you could get. I thought Limerick played outstanding, they threw everything at us and we were tested in every way. What shone through again was our absolute spirit to the end, competing manfully throughout the game.”
Limerick perspired too, but it just wasn’t enough. "We looked for a performance and what we got was incredible,” was Ryan’s appraisal.
"It was a savage battle. We came up against a savage team and we were a little bit unlucky at the end of the day."
There was no shortage of drama at the Jones Road venue on August 10, 2014.