Cody: no conveyor belt of Cats’ talent

KILKENNY boss Brian Cody has rubbished notions that the county have a bottomless well of talent as he prepares for Saturday night’s NHL Division 1 opener against Tipperary without several first-team regulars.

Ballyhale’s preparations for the St Patrick’s Day Club SHC final against Portumna rules out the quartet of Henry Shefflin, James Fitzpatrick, TJ Reid and Michael Fennelly, while St Lachtain’s All-Ireland IHC club success last weekend may prevent Michael Kavanagh from featuring.

In addition Noel Hickey, Eoin Larkin and Derek Lyng are all nursing injuries. That opens the door for newcomers to force their way into the reckoning with the Walsh Cup seeing recent graduates from U21 teams like Kieran Joyce, Lester Ryan, John Mulhall, Michael Grace and Mark Bergin all given run-outs.

But Cody rails against suggestions that there is a strong conveyor belt of talent waiting to take place.

“We haven’t even got remotely a second team that could go out and compete with anybody else. It’s nonsensical to say that we have, because we don’t.

“We have, hopefully, the ability to bring in a couple of players that could bed into a strong, experienced team. But we are no better off or no less well off than most of the top hurling counties that are there with regard to good young talent coming through. We have good young players in the county but no different than anybody else.”

Cody dismisses talk that their recent Walsh Cup exit against Offaly constituted a setback, after the Faithful County defeated Kilkenny for the first time since the 1998 All-Ireland final. Offaly boss Joe Dooley downplayed the significance of the result after the game and Cody concurs with that viewpoint.

“It wasn’t a setback. I make no secret of the fact that you go out and try to be competitive in all matches, you try to win all matches. We’ve won and we’ve lost Walsh Cups over the past few years, and sometimes a big deal is made of the fact that you’ve won the Walsh Cup. But that’s not the reality of it.

“We went out and we had a team on the field who were not experienced. We had just a couple of the players, who’d be regulars on the team, and it was a learning experience for them. Offaly didn’t have a full team out either, I’m well aware of that. It was a good competitive game and it’s not going to have any major impact on what will happen the rest of the year.”

This weekend’s hurling league action will see the spotlight trained on the new experimental playing rules, but Cody is set to reserve judgement on them until they are properly road-tested.

The Kilkenny boss also believes the GAA’s recent fair play initiative which will see a sum of €10,000 awarded to the county that tops the fair play table at the end of the season, reminds players of the importance of playing hurling within the rules.

“I’m not going to start commentating on it now. I’ll reserve judgement and see what happens. It’s how they are interpreted is what everybody will be hoping to see, that there would be no problems there.”

“The fair play is there now and it’s something that’s put in writing. Players are not going to be going out, and I’m not going to be going out with my one burning ambition to collect ten grand at the end of the year!”

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