Aidan Fogarty: 'Any other manager in Kilkenny I think his head would be on the chopping block'

Cody's 22nd season as manager ended last Saturday when the Leinster champions relinquished a nine-point lead approaching half-time against Waterford
Aidan Fogarty: 'Any other manager in Kilkenny I think his head would be on the chopping block'

Aidan Fogarty at the launch of the 2020 Electric Ireland Minor Star Recognition Awards. Picture: James Crombie

Former Kilkenny star Aidan Fogarty has claimed that if anyone other than Brain Cody was in charge of the county their 'head would be on the chopping block' by now.

Cody's 22nd season as manager ended last Saturday when the Leinster champions relinquished a nine-point lead approaching half-time against Waterford to lose their All-Ireland semi-final tie by four.

It means that in five seasons since their last All-Ireland win in 2015, the 11th of Cody's reign, they've won two Leinster titles and a National League, a relative "drought", according to Fogarty.

The eight-time All-Ireland winner said it's his personal opinion that Cody should stay on, but he noted that the line of obvious candidates to replace the 66-year-old is building up.

These include former Laois manager Eddie Brennan, Christy Ring Cup-winning Kildare boss David Herity, and back-to-back All-Ireland winning club manager Henry Shefflin.

"When you're not winning I think supporters can be fickle and we haven't won an All-Ireland in five years and to us I suppose that's nearly a drought," said Fogarty at the launch of the 2020 Electric Ireland Minor Star Recognition Awards. 

We've only won one Leinster in four years so look, on the Kilkenny front, tongues are beginning to wag alright.

"They're asking questions about Brian Cody, 'Should he stay or should he go?' That's all the questions. I think the thing about Brian is that he has such a back catalogue of All-Irelands and wins behind him.

"He has all these traits, achievements, before probably 2015 with another team, and now he is trying to build this team and he hasn't really had much success.

"If it was any other manager in Kilkenny I think his head would be on the chopping block. But it's Brian, it's going to be his decision. But there is competition for places, between Eddie Brennan, Henry Shefflin and David Herity and the thing I actually notice with them is that when Brian brings in guys, he's brought in ex-players, the likes of Martin Comerford, DJ Carey and these guys (to backroom teams). 

"Henry Shefflin and Eddie Brennan haven't been brought in as selectors so I feel, and I don't know if they ever got a phone call or not, or if there was ever an inkling for them to come in, but I just feel that they want to make their own stamp on the team if they get the opportunity, not to have the kind of legacy of Brian Cody still there as a manager, and they're underneath him.

I think they want to come in and just start from fresh.

But Fogarty warned those who may favour a new face on the sideline to carefully consider what the alternative to Cody may look like. He said the reality is that they're too reliant on star attacker TJ Reid and described this year's group as "a good team but they're not a great team".

"I would think that Cody wants another year at least with this fresh backroom team and a full year without Covid restrictions to kind of get a grasp on the team," said Fogarty. "So I can't see him going and the dilemma is that the way Kilkenny play, the heart, the grit, the determination, that's a Brian Cody trait and whenever he goes and next thing Kilkenny lose that, well then where are Kilkenny at then? Are they going to fall apart altogether? Or will the freshness of a new manager revitalise the team?"

Kilkenny led Waterford by 2-10 to 0-7 in the 33rd minute of last weekend's tie and were seven ahead at half-time but were overwhelmed in the second half, on the ground and in the air.

"I suppose it comes back to, is the team actually good enough?" said Fogarty. "If you look at Kilkenny, the way they've won all the matches in the last couple of years is through hard work, it's through grit, it's through grinding out results, it's determination and these are all traits of Brian Cody and it's the Brian Cody ethos.

"We're not beating teams by seven or eight points and any of the results are kind of by low margins. So it is worrying, it's very worrying that we're so reliant on TJ Reid. We can talk about him all day, he's absolutely brilliant, the best hurler in Ireland at the minute I think but it's so reliant on TJ.

TJ Reid of Kilkenny in action against Shane McNulty, left, and Tadhg de Búrca of Waterford during the All-Ireland semi-final. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
TJ Reid of Kilkenny in action against Shane McNulty, left, and Tadhg de Búrca of Waterford during the All-Ireland semi-final. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

If he's not playing well or if he doesn't get scores on the board, Kilkenny seem to not tick as good as they could.

"If you're looking for a spectacular hurler, there's nothing really coming through the ranks at the minute. It's moreso a kind of a team, I don't think the players are actually there at the minute in Kilkenny. We were found out this year, we were found out last year in the All-Ireland as well.

"But we are a hard team to beat and that's always the first thing that Brian Cody says, we are going to be a hard team to beat."

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