Brian Cody hailed the work of the Kilkenny medical team after patching together key players throughout the season.
Following injuries to Michael and Colin Fennelly, Richie Hogan, Richie Power, Eoin Larkin and Jackie Tyrrell this year, Cody took the opportunity to acknowledge the work of team doctor Tadhg Crowley and physiotherapists Kevin Curran, John Kearns, Alison Holmes along with sports rehabilitator Neal Byrne.
He was just as fulsome in his praise for the steadfastness of the players to overcome their difficulties to play a variety of roles, in both playing and non-playing capacities, yesterday.
“We had a tough year with injuries, there’s no doubt about. Jackie Tyrrell fought like a dog to get back for today and was so close to making it back but just wasn’t absolutely there to play.
“Shane Prendergast comes in and plays his first All-Ireland final and does a great job.
“Richie Power gets a few minutes on the field today . He just got some hurling into him since the semi-final but had been working away on his own up to then. Richie Hogan barely made the last match but since then...
“And we were able, I suppose, to keep it to ourselves, Richie pulled a quad muscle 10 days ago and it was just completely touch and go whether he’d be able to play this game or not.
“The injuries kept going, Michael Fennelly’s obviously were well chronicled. Eoin Larkin cracked his thumb two weeks ago. They took it out of the cast on Wednesday and I thought he was outstanding.
“It’s a tribute to the resolve of the players and the panel, and everybody else, it was hard earned and I tell you one thing, it’s a tribute to our medical team, they played a huge part - our physiotherapists and our doctor - they played a huge part today as well. But that’s what team is about.”
To nobody’s surprise, Cody affirmed the second half display was the winning of the game for Kilkenny.
“Three points down in hurling is not a big lead, or anything like that, and it’s fair to say we didn’t hurl as we would liked to have hurled in the first half.
“They hit us in every way possible. Galway were outstanding in the first half, I felt, their work rate, and their relentless kind of physicality. They would have been disappointed, probably, just to be three points ahead at half-time.
“We knew we had to up the game in every aspect and I thought the players’ response was magnificent, really, in the second half.
“Out attitude and relentless spirit too just drive on, and I thought our hurling was relentless as we pegged back the lead early, drove on, and I thought we were excellent in the second half, no doubt about that.”
Cody could afford to but he had “Well, the game lasts a long time. The scoreboard only matters in the end. You don’t have to win the first half. And you’re not going to win 73 or 74 minutes. That’s just not possible. So to be ahead at the final whistle is the goal.
“But you’re playing an excellent team and we would never have considered at all that we were going to dominate this game. You hang on, hang on and it’s how you play under pressure and hang in there, really defines how you do in the game. And we hung in, when they going was tough, and drove on then when we got our spell. We fought it out and got our reward, really.”
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