Lar Corbett: There’s a bigger question mark about Kilkenny this year

Brian Cody won’t admit it, but the pressure is beginning to mount for Kilkenny as they make the trip to Walsh Park this weekend.
Lar Corbett: There’s a bigger question mark about Kilkenny this year

After suffering defeats in their opening two games of the Allianz Hurling League, the Cats face fellow Division 1 strugglers Waterford on Sunday with vital league points at stake.

Kilkenny have been without several key figures this spring, namely TJ Reid, Richie Hogan, Colin Fennelly, Colin Fogarty, and Paul Murphy.

In their place, a number of last year’s Leinster U21 winning side have been thrust into action as Cody assesses the depth of this squad.

In his post-game interviews this season, the Kilkenny boss has been keen to focus on the positives amid all the talk of transition.

“Everybody that was out there was fully intent on trying to hold onto a jersey,” he said after they went down to Clare by three points at Nowlan Park. “And some fellas did themselves a lot of good.”

But former Tipperary star Lar Corbett, who had many memorable battles against Kilkenny during his inter-county career, believes Cody’s frustrations can be seen in his behaviour on the sidelines this season.

Cody was sent to the stands during Kilkenny’s Walsh Cup final loss to Wexford, following an altercation with a linesman over a red card given to Richie Reid.

“He has a high level of aggression on the sideline, but I think his level of aggression is after raising another bit,” Corbett said at the launch of the new Laochra Gael series.

“Being sent to the stand is a worrying thing for himself, his backroom team, and his players. So, you can only have a certain level of aggression and see how far it gets you.

“They are definitely being questioned more so than in the last number of years that I can remember. I remember they were questioned a few years ago and they came back and won a few All-Irelands afterward.

“There’s a bigger question mark (about Kilkenny) this year and I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes. I can’t wait.”

Even though he may not have the same riches at his disposal, Cody’s ruthless edge remains as sharp as ever.

After watching Kilkenny fall 2-7 to 0-2 behind against the Banner, he sent in three first-half substitutions in an attempt to turn the tide.

Corbett wasn’t surprised to see Cody take such drastic action.

“When you play for Kilkenny and Brian Cody is the manager, you have to remember that there’s pressure on you to perform,” says Corbett.

“If you don’t perform, you’re coming out. We all know that Brian Cody is very quick to make decisions and after 22 minutes in the last game, he took someone off.

“He’s very quick to make decisions and the pressure is on when you’re there, there’s no question about that.

“It’s true that the leaders that he had, the leaders that were developed year on year over a seven to 10-year period (are not there anymore).

"When you’re looking for leaders now, it’s hard to see where they are. They don’t have them in the same abundance that they had them before.”

Tipperary travel to Nowlan Park to face the Cats on Sunday week, but the three-time All-Star believes it’s important not to read too much into the early season fixtures.

“To be fair I think Tipp are in a good position, but if you look at the conditions at this time of year, it’s very, very tough.

"It’s very hard to pick a team now in these conditions that you’d want come the first round of the championship if it’s in Semple Stadium or Páirc Uí Chaoimh when it’s hitting the top of the ground.

“To me, they’re two different sports. You want a different player for this time of the year from the summer time to get you over the line.

“The one thing you do need is to build confidence at this time of the year and you can see at the minute there, Wexford are getting good confidence and other teams are also.

“You do get confidence this time of the year, but as regards your chances, I wouldn’t like to be counting them this time of the year.”

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