Well, that was awesome from Kilkenny – again. What struck me most about seeing them up close and oh-so-personal in 2008 was just how strong they were. Early on in the game Aidan Kearney emerged with the ball and ran into (I think) Eddie Brennan. Kearney flew back like he’d been hit by a collective rugby front row even though he was the one with the momentum. Yes, they have all the skills but it’s the ironman physique that allows them so much space to be able to show off those skills. For all of their underage success, it is Cody’s training methods and his ruthless disposal of those who don’t come up to his high standards that makes this Kilkenny team the greatest of them all. So if you are in your car and you see Brian Cody at a pelican crossing . . . let him cross. But don’t say the thought didn’t cross your mind.
As an aside, the whole premise of the Cork strike two years ago was (of course) about the long-term development of Cork hurling and democracy triumphing over tyranny. But I would suggest that Denis Walsh is a prisoner of those who effectively installed him. Does anyone think the O’Connors or Tom Kenny given their current form would be playing for a Brian Cody team? He would have culled them years ago and their replacements would now be fully-fledged Championship hurlers. Two years lost – at least. But (of course) it was all about principles so the price – how’s that whole five-in-a-row thing that Roy Keane was talking about with a straight face back in 2006 working for ye now? – of Kilkenny motoring away into the All-Ireland distance was worth paying.
As for Waterford, it really does look like a forlorn task for either ourselves or Tipperary. Thrilling and all as their win over Galway was, it’s hard to countenance the team that went toe-to-toe with Kilkenny last year being brought to the brink in that manner, so one must assume that Tipperary have gone backwards. As for ourselves, we are a different outfit to the one slaughtered that fateful day in Croke Park. Whether the less carefree Waterford is a better team is an open question, but at least we won’t be trying the same thing in the hope of a different result. For both teams, the big issue is not Tipperary or Waterford but whether Kilkenny can experience a few more injuries between now and September 5. Not that I’d wish injuries on anyone (of course), but it might be an idea to keep the pedal near the metal should you be passing through Ballyhale.