Duignan: Why Cody must start Shefflin and Walsh in replay

Start Henry Shefflin and Tommy Walsh — that’s Michael Duignan’s advice to Brian Cody for the All-Ireland final replay later this month.

The Offaly man saw enough evidence in last Sunday’s drawn game to start the pair, who between them have won 17 All-Ireland titles and 19 All Stars.

He believes Shefflin can do a job in the full-forward line. “The frustration that Henry has must be massive at this stage. I’ve argued that playing him on the wing at 35 years of age, he mightn’t have the pace but anywhere along the full-forward line I think he could have a bearing and it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if he had to go off.

“Lar (Corbett) has retained that pace, which is most unusual at this stage of his career, but Shefflin still, he’s such a presence. He’s so well regarded in Kilkenny, he’s such an influence and if he gets a chance or two he’s going to take them.

“If you had someone there playing really well and you were leaving him off for him then fine but I think there is a couple of gaps in that Kilkenny forward line. Remember Canavan went off? (in an All-Ireland final and came back on) That’s not beyond the bounds of possibility either!”

Walsh has not featured in a Kilkenny game since the Leinster semi-final but Duignan figures he can offset some of the damage being caused by Tipperary in the half-back line.

“In a game like that, when it seems to be a given where John O’Dwyer or Noel McGrath is going to score three or four points from play, I’d have Tommy Walsh in the team. The reason he was dropped was that Danny Sutcliffe scored points like that off him once or twice but if lads are going to be putting up scores like that, with the light sliotar and the speed of the game, imagine the amount of ball he’d score in a loose, open game like that?

“I’d start both himself and Shefflin. I think Tommy would last the pace, even if his man does score a few points. That’s the way it’s gone. Tipperary have an exceptional forward line, they’ve six exceptional forwards. You’re not going to keep them quiet.

“I’d start him because of the influence he could bring, the amount of ball he’d be on, his striking, his distribution, his ability to score from distance as well. No disrespect to Joey Holden but he’s a man-marker. I don’t think he has that range of hurling that Tommy has.”

Like most, Duignan sensed immediately after Sunday’s game that the initiative was with Tipperary. However, he reckons a lot of factors can change before September 27.

“Three weeks is a long time, the weather could be very different to the last day and that suits Kilkenny as they’re massive men, very strong.

“I don’t know whether I’m right or wrong but you’d be thinking the Tipp lads, going back on Tuesday, were thinking ‘we should have won the All-Ireland, we hurled so well, had all those goal chances, and now we have to wait three more weeks.

“Whereas the Kilkenny lads would be going back to training on Tuesday night thinking ‘we’re back training again’ because that’s what they do and that’s what they’ve been doing for so long, that’s in their psyche. They’d be surprised at how well Tipperary played and still didn’t get over the line.”

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