A few days before the All-Ireland hurling final, the Tipperary supporters club placed on record their praise for the ‘27-man support structure’ and ‘army of experts’ assembled by Liam Sheedy.
A year earlier, Limerick won the All-Ireland and produced an official photograph that included 23 backroom team members while it’s been reported that Davy Fitzgerald’s management in Wexford and Mattie Kenny’s in Dublin number 28 and 27 respectively. In the case of Limerick and Tipperary, there is also the considerable support of wealthy patrons, JP McManus and Declan Kelly, to call upon, all of which seems a world away from the slimmed-down, traditional operation overseen by Brian Cody in Kilkenny.
The Cats’ All-Ireland final media guide listed a management team of less than 10. It’s been shifted around for 2020, with Martin Comerford and DJ Carey coming in as selectors and Derek Lyng moving to manage the U-20s. Michael Comerford has replaced long-term trainer Michael Dempsey.
“Often times, the less that’s said the better,” said experienced Kilkenny defender Paul Murphy: “You can get a lot of work done with three (management) lads rather than thirty lads.
“That’s not to say what Limerick or anyone is doing is wrong. That’s just what Brian feels and it’s what the players are extremely happy with. I think if Brian decided to have 30 this year, the players wouldn’t even think about it. We’d just think, ‘Right, I’m going back training’.
We have three lads who have won All-Irelands and DJ Carey, one of the greatest players of all time. So the players look at that and go, ‘If he’s telling me what to do, it’s surely the best advice I can get anywhere’.”
Likewise, Murphy doesn’t feel that the lack of a JP McManus-type patron in the background holds Kilkenny back in any way.
“I think we’re extremely well served,” said Murphy. “We have Glanbia and Avonmore, they’re our main sponsors. We don’t want for anything. When you get to an All-Ireland, you go on your team holiday. If you need your bit of mileage, you get your bit of mileage.
“You get your food allowances and that comes through the GPA as well. I can hold my hands up and say I don’t need anything more.
“I get my gear, I get everything given to me.
Kilkenny flew out of Dublin yesterday for Saturday’s Aer Lingus sponsored New York Hurling Classic at Citi Field. They’re without the Ballyhale Shamrocks contingent who play St Martin’s in the AIB Leinster club semi-finals the same day.