Cody puts referee Kelly and former Kilkenny ‘greats’ in his crosshairs

The morning after the evening before and All-Ireland-winning Kilkenny manager Brian Cody is holding court with members of the written press in the bar of the CityWest Hotel.

Cody puts referee Kelly and former Kilkenny ‘greats’ in his crosshairs

He’s done so on more occasions than he would care to remember, finding new ways of repeating what he said the day previously. But yesterday he had more than a lot to say.

Q: A night to reflect on it — where does this achievement sit with you now?

BRIAN CODY: “It’s very, very sweet for certain because it’s been very competitive. Everyone said last year was a whole new ball game, the championship was a whole new ball game. Probably the expectation was from yourselves [the media] that we’d be moving aside for a while, that we had a lot of work to do to catch up on the new hurling that was going to be played from now on. We had to take on the challenge.

There were changes in the panel, the league was played, a lot of players got game time in the league and it went on from there. We moved on to win the league, which was a big achievement alone.

The challenge of trying to win the Leinster championship which we hadn’t been able to do the year before, we got two chances against Dublin and we weren’t able to win it. We were up against Cork then in the quarter-final and beaten again so that was a statement of where we were last year. The challenge was obviously serious, and everyone concerned took it on. It went on and it just progressed. We had a good win against Offaly and then we drew with Galway. We were in a winning position but drew and the pressure was on again then in the replay. It wouldn’t have knocked us out of the championship but it would have sent us on a different route to the one we preferred to go. We took on that challenge well. The win over Dublin was emphatic.

“The game against Limerick was a huge battle again. There were several questions asked of us that day. It went every way. They were outstanding that day and I’m not going to let that game be forgotten because they and we deserve huge credit for taking on that challenge. We were in a position where we were staring at defeat again and our response was magnificent.

“The last day was just a crazy game, a phenomenal game, if you like, and people will always be drawn to those kind of games where the scores are thick and plenty and it’s spectacular and entertaining. But there’s more to it than that. Saturday was a real definition of the game of hurling from the point of view that there’s defending, attacking, creating, closing down, there’s all sorts. There’s everything. I think yesterday’s game had everything. Maybe the previous game lacked a certain element of the quality of things that are needed to be complete. I think we were complete as could be yesterday in the sense that we created an awful lot more chances than we took, even. Much was made the last day that it was almost as if Tipperary had so many goal chances and didn’t take them, but we also had a lot of goal chances the last day and little was made of that really.

“Yesterday, we created a lot more chances than we took and I’d say we were very definite winners, there was no doubt about the result. So it’s a really enjoyable and very, very sweet victory, without a shadow of a doubt.”

Q: Were there triggers for you from last year like not playing in Croke Park for the first time in championship?

BC: “We didn’t tog out in Croke Park last year and it crossed our minds. We like going up there, and if you don’t go up there it means you’re not playing much hurling. We play in Leinster... so you’re not doing much if you don’t play in Croke Park if you’re playing in Leinster. But we didn’t get there. We got there a few times this year. It’s certainly the challenge. We threw a challenge at ourselves more than anybody else. That’s what you’ve got to do. You [the media] can speculate and pontificate and everything else but we live in the real world, in the arena where you have to take on whatever’s out there, and we did it well.”

Q: What was the big difference this year? There were injuries to key players last year.

BC: “We had injuries during the year as well but stuff evens itself out. I suppose last year we were coming off winning a couple of All-Irelands previous to that and drawn one as well. We actually won the league last year. We won the league without ever flowing, we weren’t flowing, weren’t playing like we’re capable of playing. We were stuck in a gear that we never got out of. Our genuineness, our spirit, got us over the line against Tipperary. We had a massive game against Waterford and a massive game in Thurles as well. The fundamentals were spot on, the spirit and genuineness, they were there and they have always been there. The spark never ignited. This year we were absolutely certain even though, you know, our spirit was questioned in the last couple of weeks. I’m glad it was. It’s good. It was rubbish. It was in the newspapers by some of our own geniuses as well.”

Q: Within Kilkenny?

BC: “Yeah, by former greats or so-called greats, so-called greats, yeah [repeats under his breath] and they felt that there might be a bit of disharmony in the camp because they wanted to pick the team. We do what we like with the team, because we pick the team, we are in charge. And to question our spirit is rubbish.

Q: Too much made of the novelty of last year’s final?

BC: “I was amused at the time, to be honest. I have seen it before, I have heard it before. People get excited when they see something as if... it’s as if like people never scored goals before or as if people never hurled before. It happens. The participants weren’t claiming it. The media came up with all sorts of novel ideas that had been thrown out over the years. I have seen about four or five new types of hurling since I came into this job in people’s minds. It’s impossible to change the fundamentals of a team sport like hurling. If you think it can well then you might start winning All-Irelands.”

Q: Do Kilkenny not get the credit that’s due to them because they’re serial winners?

BC: “That is understandable, people always like something new. That’s neither here nor there. If we want to be serious about our sport, our participation in the championship, we just have to go on and do our job. People who speculate on it can speculate on it, have their preferences. Some people said this [2013] was the greatest championship of all time. The president of the GAA said it was the game of the century... maybe it was.

Q: You obviously don’t think so?

BC: “Maybe it was. I don’t know much about it. We just do what we do.”

Q: That drawn game against Tipperary was up there with it, if not better?

BC: “Ah, spectacular, spectacular but maybe lacking in some of the things that are very, very important to have in the team on both sides. Two great teams.

Q: Was Saturday’s game better?

BC: “It is simple for me to say that now because we won. The last game was an outstanding game, there is no doubt about that, but I would say for either team to concede as much as was conceded the last day would not be what either team would be hoping to do. Obviously, you would love to score as much but the strange thing was that both teams scored the same and it was as if they had scored and missed more than we had and I didn’t think so. Also, at the end of the day, at the end of the day, [repeated] they were handed an opportunity [by referee Barry Kelly] with the last puck of the game the last day in the wrong to win the game. You are nodding your head now, so you agree. They were handed an opportunity by a complete wrong decision. We didn’t speak about it the last day but it was criminal what was done the last day. And people can say that I am whingeing and moaning all they like but I am telling the truth here.”

Q: Did you think it was a free the other way?

BC: “If he had said ‘play on’ I would have said fair enough. I could say maybe it might have been a free for us. If the ball broke and they put it over the bar fair enough but you don’t hand a team a free puck and say, ‘lads, there you go’. It was like that.”

Q: Would you consider he has previous with Kilkenny after Jackie Tyrrell free in 2012 final and Henry Shefflin’s red card last year?

BC: “Of course he has. Of course he has. Now you have your story! Keep it simple lads now right!”

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