Kilkenny maintained their Division 1 league status at the expense of Clare on March 29 and will not feature competitively until June 21 when they commence the defence of their Leinster and All-Ireland titles.
Kilkenny have been involved in five of the last six league deciders, ensuring competitive action into early May and significantly cutting down on the gap between league and championship.
“You deal with whatever is put in front of you,” said Cody of their 11-week layoff. “We are finding it okay. It is an opportunity for the lads to go back to their clubs. We have one round of club championship played and we have two more coming up. We are mixing it up between coming in and training ourselves and training with clubs. It is working out fine. We would love to have qualified for the league knockout stages, but it didn’t happen. Everyone gears for championship and that’s what we’re looking forward to.”
Asked if he believed Kilkenny’s poor league campaign would dim the spotlight on the Cats entering the championship, the All-Ireland winning manager responded: “Hopefully people realise we weren’t playing in the league semi-finals because we weren’t good enough so maybe they will stop talking about us.”
Cody fielded seven of last September’s All-Ireland winning team for Saturday’s challenge in aid of Jamie Wall and it was hurler-of-the-year Richie Hogan, along with midfield partner TJ Reid, who caused most damage — the pair contributing 0-12.
Continued Cody: “It was an opportunity for lads to put their hand up and say this is how I am playing. We were satisfied with that. We are looking at different players at present. Cork are looking at players for next Sunday whereas we are a couple of weeks away from action.”
Full-forward Paudie O’Sullivan led Cork’s first-half scoring charge, converting a one-on-one penalty on 23 minutes and raising four white flags.
The home outfit trailed 1-11 to 1-9 at the break, Colin Fennelly bagging Kilkenny’s major, and the visitors appeared to have moved out of sight when hitting an unanswered 1-4 early in the second period. Jonjo Farrell, set up by Reid, blasting Kilkenny’s second goal.
Paudie O’Sullivan rattled the net in the ensuing passage of play to nullify the strike.
Kevin Kelly struck goal number three for the Cats after sub keeper Patrick Collins produced a superb save to thwart the full-forward’s initial effort.
Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s side — O’Sullivan, Damien Cahalane and Jamie Coughlan impressing most — roused themselves for a grandstand finish where two Darren McCarthy points, placed ball efforts from O’Sullivan and Collins, accentuated by a Dayne Lee goal on 65 minutes moved Cork in front.
The crowd of 3,185 roared the Rebels across the line, but they were caught by a TJ Reid free on 68 minutes.
Jamie Wall addressed the crowd at half-time and drew the largest cheer of the evening when quipping: “It is very hard to speak when you can hear your echo. I never appreciated how difficult the stadium announcer’s job is.”
P O’Sullivan (2-7, 0-6 frees, 1-0 pen); D McCarthy (0-4); J Coughlan (0-3); D Lee, S Moylan (1-0 each); K Burke, B Lawton, P Collins (0-1 free), B Cooper (0-1 each).
R Hogan (0-8, 0-6 frees, 0-1 ’65); K Kelly (1-3); C Fennelly (1-2); TJ Reid (0-4); J Farrell (1-1); D Cody, M Ruth, R Power (0-1 each).
A Nash; B O’Sullivan, A Ryan, S O’Donoghue; D Cahalane, P Cronin, K Burke; B Lawton, Andy Walsh; B Cooper, J Cronin, D McCarthy; J Coughlan, P O’Sullivan, S Moylan.
P Collins for Nash (HT), L Meade for Cronin (50), D Lee for Cooper (58), A Spillane for Moylan (66), R O’Shea for Lawton (68).
E Murphy; S Prendergast, J Holden, K Joyce; R Lennon, P Walsh, D Cody; TJ Reid, R Hogan; M Ruth, C Fennelly, R Power; J Farrell, K Kelly, C Bolger.
R Reid for Murphy (HT), C O’Shea for Prendergast (48 min), J Lyng for Ruth (48), C Martin for Farrell (48), J Meagher for Bolger (57), B Troy for Joyce (58).
D O’Driscoll (Limerick).