Tyrrell shrugs off criticism of Cats’ style

Jackie Tyrrell insists Kilkenny aren’t paying any attention to pundits criticising their style of play.

TV3 and Newstalk analyst Daithí Regan last week said they are “getting away with playing illegally” and that Brian Cody recently attempted to influence referees. But Tyrrell said they have learned to ignore detractors.

“In one ear and out the other,” he said. “It has been said before, it’s just coming out of a different mouth.

“I don’t know why Daithí has said it or even if he believes it. I don’t think we’re dirty or tough — we play the game on the edge and we play it in the spirit as it should be played.”

Although Henry Shefflin didn’t tog out for Kilkenny in Sunday’s challenge game against Offaly, long-term cruciate victim John Tennyson did. It likely means more competition for Tyrrell but he was delighted to see his team-mate return to the fold 20 months after his last competitive Kilkenny game.

“It was more the setbacks, just when things looked to be coming right. He was getting fluid on the knee that he couldn’t get right, it was very hard for him.”

Tennyson will join the battle for first-team places in the back-line for their Leinster semi-final against Dublin or Laois on June 23 in Portlaoise. Newcomers Richie Doyle and Cillian Buckley have put their hand up for selection too and Tyrrell admits he’s surprised they have fitted in so fast. “I didn’t think they were ready but I suppose Brian’s [Cody] hand was forced with the injuries. He was probably looking at blooding them later in the league, maybe bringing them on as subs and that.

“But Cillian Buckley has been brilliant and Richie Doyle. I suppose Matthew Ruth was there the year before so he had a bit of a taste of it but they have all been brilliant.”

But Tyrrell is loathe to read too much into the recent Division 1 final win over Cork. “I think we caught them off guard, the early goals… they seemed very nervous and very tetchy.

“The day seemed to get to them a little bit and by the time the second half came the sting had gone out of their tail really and they were just going through the motions.”

On the subject of hurler of the year Michael Fennelly being out for 10 weeks with an ankle injury, Tyrrell admits last year’s star player will be sorely missed.

“There’s only one Mick Fennelly. A lot of our players wouldn’t have the power that he has when he drives forward.

“The likes of Cillian [Buckley] and Michael Rice are great hurlers and real workers, but Michael gives you a different dynamic to everyone else. He’s a huge loss.

“If you look at maybe playing the likes of Dublin, who are very big and physical, you need your big players. He’s gone and that’s it. At least we have time to plan.”

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