FORMER Cork star Joe Deane has laughed off suggestions that Kilkenny are a side in decline, insisting the Cats are still the team to beat.
Questions have been raised about Kilkenny’s credentials after their recent Allianz Hurling League final defeat to Dublin. Deane, a three-time All-Ireland winner with Cork has been shocked by the level of criticism directed at Brian Cody’s team.
“I think it’s ridiculous to be writing Kilkenny off,” he said.
“Eight or nine months ago people weren’t only talking about them winning five-in-row, they were predicting seven or eight. Now here we are and people are saying this current team won’t win one again.
“They’ve been hit badly by injuries over the last few months, particularly with their leaders like Henry Shefflin and Tommy Walsh. That certainly has affected them. But I have no doubt that they’ll have themselves right for the championship.
“That league final was far more important to Dublin than it was to Kilkenny, but hurling is a different game in the summer. Kilkenny will get back to normal, Brian Cody will have them ready. Along with Tipperary, Kilkenny are still the team to beat.”
Deane has also been impressed by Dublin, who he believes are now genuine contenders. However, the 33-year-old has urged Anthony Daly’s side not to get carried away by their recent success.
“The Dubs showed a lot of promise early last year and ended up falling away badly. But they look a stronger team this year after bringing in the likes of Ryan Dwyer and Conal Keaney. They were brilliant in the league and play a great brand of hurling so it will be interesting to see if they can reproduce that in the summer. I think they can though. They’re looking good.”
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