Yesterday morning he woke up in the CityWest Hotel, the memory of the previous day’s events still fresh, and he couldn’t keep the smile from his face.
“It’s a brilliant feeling, you can’t get enough of it,” he said. “It’s all about that feeling when the final whistle goes, coming back last night and meeting the people of Kilkenny. A great night had by all, then going home today as All-Ireland champions again. It’s something you want to hold on to forever.”
Oh they’re not going away, not with that attitude. It’s worth recording here too that the average age of the Galway team they beat on Sunday? 25.2 years. The average of the Kilkenny starting 15? 26.6 years. Only just over a year older. The real difference between this Kilkenny team and everyone else is the mileage but, says Jackie, freshness wasn’t a problem this year and won’t be next year.
“Credit has to go to Brian, Michael and Martin [Cody, Dempsey and Fogarty, management team] for that. There are a few of us with a lot of miles on the clock, getting up there in age too, up around the 30s and over it [Henry 33, Brian Hogan 31, Jackie himself and JJ both on 30].
“There were question marks over us throughout the year and rightly so, especially after the Leinster final. We just regrouped, went back at it again. We just wanted it that bit more yesterday. We pushed ourselves to the limit and got the result.”
An undeniable factor in Sunday’s win was the rearrangement of the Kilkenny team. Back to more familiar positions after the wholesale switches in the drawn game they looked far more comfortable. “Maybe we had focused a bit too much on Galway and changed too much for them.
“We went back to what we’re good at, trying to impose our game-plan on them, get a good start, a few early scores on the board. We had to try to draw Galway a bit further out and give our forwards a bit more space.
“That’s the way it worked. We got good quality ball into the boys inside, Richie Hogan and these lads, they did the rest. They were excellent.”
What of the future, any talk of retirements? “No, and I hope no-one even considers it. We have great men over us, a great panel, we’d like to keep it all together now and go back at it again next year.”