Our hurling writers pick some trends and topics out of the opening weekend of hurling league action.
MIND GAMES FROM CODY?
Unusual words from Brian Cody at the end of Saturday’s defeat by Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
“I don’t think there’s too much expected from our team this year, by an awful lot of people.”
It this the first instance in a long time, maybe ever, of Cody going the ‘media wrote us off’ route?
Anthony Daly, speaking on today’s Irish Examiner PaperTalk podcast, isn’t so sure it’s just mind games from the Kilkenny boss, rather an accurate reflection of an unfamiliar reality.
“A little bit of that (the mind games) but there’s a reality there too.
“With Paul Murphy and Colin Fennelly being away until April as well, that’s a real difficulty.
“Other years they were able to have lads missing and have massive strength in depth. But now it’s really being felt, the loss of the two lads.
“Defensively, I think that’s where they are in a bit of trouble. You saw what Padraig Walsh could do when he stormed up the field with that magnificent score on Saturday night.
“You’d like to see him at five, but who’s going to play in the full-back line. They seem to be short of options.
“I admire Brian. It would have been easy for him to walk away. But the difficult bit is staying on and helping with remoulding a team.
“They’ll still be hard beat but it’s hard to see them winning an All-Ireland. If he does, I think it will be the greatest thing he’s ever done as a manager.”
Listen to Dalo discuss Kilkenny and all the first round of hurling games from 21:45
WHERE HAVE ALL THE GOALS GONE?
It wasn’t only that there was just one goal in Ennis yesterday; there was just one goal opportunity period.
Elsewhere across Division 1A, there was just the one in Cork on Saturday and then two in Walsh Park. The fact that it’s January has to be considered but then goals have been on the decline in the game and one wonders just how of a model Galway have provided since going through last year’s championship scoring one goal, not finding the net for their last four matches in that run.
Clare co-manager Donal Moloney believes goals will be forthcoming.
"We scored a lot of goals last year and it didn’t do us any good!” he smiled yesterday. “It was quite interesting that while there was a lot of shots today the goalies really only had tidying up work to do except for the shot from David (Reidy) at the end. It’s quite interesting. All these players are banging over the ball now from anywhere inside the 65. There’s a major focus on that but I think the goals will come. I wouldn’t worry about that.”
KEEPERS SCORING SIGN WE NEED A NEW BALL?
Goalkeepers hitting points is not the rarity it once was, but last weekend saw Eoin Murphy of Kilkenny and Mark Fanning of Wexford bomb the ball over the bar from their own halves.
It’s surely only a matter of time before some ‘keeper starts landing puck-outs over the bar, at which point you may see action. Interfering with the most basic of hurling technology might seem like heresy, but it seems ironic that at a time when most managers are keen on closely controlled stick passing, many goalkeepers have the wherewithal to bypass almost every line of the field with their puck-outs.
It’s surely illogical, at the very least, that a jersey tug by a corner-forward one hundred metres from his own goal should give the opposition a scoring opportunity. Legislation needed. Or heavier sliotars, maybe.