Back into the pack go Kilkenny. Back to the drawing board, they must now go.
As has been mentioned elsewhere on these pages, Saturday’s defeat means Kilkenny, for the second year running, finish the season without a single piece of All-Ireland silverware – the first time in 19 years this has happened.
“For years, everyone was chasing Kilkenny, everybody else was looking at us doing it. It’s different now. There’s a challenge there in front of them. They just have to suck it in,” said Eddie Brennan of Kilkenny’s challenged future.
“I don’t see it as being a big catastrophe, the big shock everyone makes it out to be. You’re at the top for a prolonged period of time. All you’re doing is going back to the rest.
“To me, it’s evolution. It happens. It is about putting the head down and going again. Same for Kilkenny across all age groups. Our minors were quite unlucky this year. They are the thin margins. You have to have a bit of luck in sport as well.”
The performance of the seniors in 2017 – defeat to Waterford in the qualifiers saw Kilkenny, for the first time under Cody, fail to reach the All-Ireland quarter-final – and a slowing of the production line will ensure Kilkenny won’t be figuring at the top of any list when the contenders for next year’s Liam MacCarthy Cup are compiled.
“That’s amusing. But it’s probably because of the benchmark and the level the Kilkenny seniors have set over the last 10 or 12 years, and I’m conscious of saying that in a team that I played in. It’s not an ego thing. Every team was chasing you down for years and years. Now it’s just a case of a lot of teams being around the one level.
“I don’t think Galway are that far ahead of everyone else either. They were the team to beat this year. They were strong. Very, very good all year around. But a lot of people probably felt Waterford didn’t play to their potential.
“It’s exciting in a way for 2018. It can’t come quick enough. Like everybody else, Kilkenny are back to the drawing board. A lot of them guys out there who played for me are good enough [to go on]. They may not have shown it today but it’s character building, it’s a test of their resilience, a test of what’s between their ears and what do they want.”
Brennan had four of his starting six forwards whipped off by the 44th minute, indicative of their struggles in front of goal.
“Limerick had an energy about them and they just chased down everything. With 15 or 16 minutes to go, we had all our subs used. What do you do? You‘re trying to identify who to come off, there were so many lads and it didn’t happen for them. That’s sport. It happens you know.”
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