Kilkenny claimed that 11th All-Ireland SHC hurling title in 17 years with victory against Galway yesterday, but at half-time it was the Tribesmen who looked to be in the driving seat.
They held a three point lead going into half time, with the scoreline reading 0-14 to 1-8 as they headed toward the dressing rooms.
Kilkenny manager Brian Cody celebrates with Jackie Tyrrell. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Kilkenny’s Colin Fennelly revealed last night that it was what happened in the next few minutes that changed the course of the game and drove the Cats to victory.
“We walked in and our heads were down, we were looking around, we didn’t know what to do or who to look at,” he told Newstalk’s Off the Ball.
“Cody just stood up obviously and said, ‘Ye know what the problem is, we’re not working hard enough, ye’re not doing what ye were told to do. You're not doing what you were doing in training.’ Then he said he’d give us a few minutes to ourselves.
“He steps out, he always steps out.”
Cody’s policy of leaving the room is to enable the leaders amongst the players to step forward and motivate their teammates.
Yesterday that was a player who wasn’t even on the field, four-time All Star Jackie Tyrrell.
“It could have been an awkward silence or someone could have stepped up and talked,” Fennelly explained. “Jackie Tyrrell stood up so he did, a lad that’s plagued with an injury the last couple of weeks trying to get back.
“I’ve never seen a lad work so hard trying to get back.”
Tyrell held nothing back as he rallied his fellow players.
“He was standing there absolutely roaring us on, talking just pure sense, exactly what we needed to hear.
“He said that this is not good enough, this is not us, this is not what we’re based on, this is not what we’re born and bred on.
“He said, ‘I’ve watched ye the last few weeks, ye have hit each other harder in training. Get out there and you're not going to let them walk up the steps.”
Kilkenny went out and dominated the remainder of the game, winning the second half by seven points and claiming at 36th All-Ireland in the process.
Tyrrell, named among the substitutes for the game but not used, had struggled to make it back from a foot injury in time to participate in the game.
But judging by Fennelly’s comments, he managed to play a crucial part in Kilkenny’s victory without hitting a sliotar.