| 3.9°C Dublin

Brennan's brief The famous Kilkenny ‘conveyor belt’ of talent is now rusting, it’s creaking, it’s in need of a service

Close

If Brian Cody could lead Kilkenny to a 12th Liam MacCarthy Cup next July, it will be his finest victory of them all.

If Brian Cody could lead Kilkenny to a 12th Liam MacCarthy Cup next July, it will be his finest victory of them all.

SPORTSFILE

If Brian Cody could lead Kilkenny to a 12th Liam MacCarthy Cup next July, it will be his finest victory of them all.

Brian Cody was never going to leave it like that. Losing last year’s All-Ireland hurling semi-final to a second half Waterford comeback, while watching his Black and Amber Kilkenny team being beaten in the air all over the pitch, will have cut the great man to the quick.

So he will soon start out on his 23rd campaign as Kilkenny senior hurling manager, bidding to bring back the glory days to Noreside.

Neutrals would say that he is an optimist in that. Limerick are hurling’s top dogs, and you can argue whether Galway or Tipperary are second best. But fourth in the pecking order is the very highest you could put the Cats as we start out on 2021. In fact, you might have to honour the Deise’s semi-final win and put them fourth, relegating Cody’s side to fifth.

But there’s an argument to say that what Cody is doing with Kilkenny hurling right now, keeping them competitive, might just be the best work of his career.

You see it is one thing to win a bucketful of All-Irelands a decade ago with hurlers so brilliant that we only need to call them by their first names, DJ, Henry, JJ, Tommy, TJ , Richie, Fast Eddie etc, etc. Cody’s genius, just like Jim Gavin and now Dessie Farrell with the Dublin footballers, was to keep those men hungry.

After two All-Ireland medals, they wanted a third. When the fifth came along, nothing was thought of except the sixth – and on it went. And whenever Father Time called time on one of his heroes, Cody looked at the latest Kilkenny Minor or Under-21 team and whistled up a replacement.

But not anymore. The famous Kilkenny ‘conveyor belt’ of talent is now rusting, it’s creaking, it’s in need of a service – and there are those who would say it has just plain broken down.

Consider this. Kilkenny last won an All-Ireland U-21 hurling title in 2008, they haven’t won the minor crown since 2014. Even worse, Kilkenny have won the Leinster U-21/U-20 Final only twice since 2012 and they have won just one of the last four completed Leinster Minor Championships.

When Cody needs talent now, he is calling on hurlers whose teams have been regularly beaten by Galway, Dublin and Wexford at under-age level. They are not coming into the senior set-up with medals jangling in their pockets and they are not walking into a senior set-up where winning is the outcome of most big matches.

It took a stroke of genius, literally, from Richie Hogan to score a famous goal and help Kilkenny to win last year’s Leinster title, Galway were the better team for most of the Leinster Final. And as Galway boss Shane O’Neill looks to tweak for 2021, he is now where Cody used to be since Galway have won the last three All-Ireland minor crowns.

Yes indeed, there is an argument to say that should Cody lead his county to a 12th Liam MacCarthy Cup next July, it will be his finest victory of them all.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Online Editors


Privacy