“Tactics.” Brian Cody mentions the word with no little amount of disdain and no shortage of mockery. Yet later in the conversation he’s not so dismissive.
“James (McGarry), Derek (Lyng) and myself pick the team and decide whatever has to be decided on as regards personnel and tactics, whatever they are and everything else you know and preparation, and Mick (Dempsey) obviously is very much with the physical preparation as well.”
Intensity is a word more to his liking although he frowns on Michael Ryan’s assessment of his Kilkenny team as the masters of it. “I suppose he’s saying that, for the craic... I think that’s what has been a hallmark of Tipperary, not just this year. Intensity is a huge part of any team sport. How many times have we been on the receiving end of that intensity from various counties? We certainly have. And if we didn’t have an element of that or if we can’t bring that to a very, very decent level, we’re going to be blown away.
“That’s one of the fundamentals of the game. It’s like people speak about intensity as if it’s something negative. It’s a hugely positive thing. It’s probably what allows you to express yourself as a hurler, the fact that you’re trying to dominate your area and dominate your position. But they do that on such a regular basis and they’ve done it many, many times over the years as well, as have all the other top hurling counties who are in the frame the whole time.”
In many ways, for Cody intensity is his preferred word to tactics. He’s certain it wasn’t tactics that earned them a draw against Waterford earlier this month. “Nothing happened off the pitch to make that happen. Our players just showed that composure, that never-say-die spirit, that determination to keep going and to have, more than anything else, the composure to create the opportunity to score the goal that was required. That looked very difficult to do, it was something that was done by the players. Trusting the players to do that is a great thing to be able to have.”
Aiming for a 12th All-Ireland title in a 15th final, at this stage preparing to face Tipperary is not something that pressurises Cody. “It’s not stressful. People can say, ‘It’s easy to say that’. I don’t have to do this. This is not something I have to do or stay doing, whatever it is; it’s my choice. If I choose to do something with my life that’s going to be a terrible sort of negative thing for me or stressful thing for me, I wouldn’t be very clever and I’m not that stupid. So I do it because I enjoy doing it. To be involved at this level at this part of the year coming up to the All-Ireland final, it’s a grand thing. We’ll carry on and I’ll be involved in my club as well. It’s my sport and the sport I’m involved with but I just carry on as normal. It’s a very, very normal part of my life and that’s it.”
Cody rejects the idea Kilkenny have an Indian sign over Tipperary. The Cats’ record against their neighbours is not something he places a lot of store in.
“Obviously we’ve met in some very, very high-profile games. I don’t even stop to think, I couldn’t even rattle off now what years, or whatever it is, I just don’t know. If I stopped to think I could figure it out I’m sure.”
He also takes a withering view of suggestions Kilkenny fans are taking success for granted after Joey Holden lifted the Liam MacCarthy Cup last September with several fans having already left the stadium. “Well, I’d say if you were in Thurles (All-Ireland semi-final replay), there was no sense of that. You’d be on the line but you could feel that sense of phenomenal atmosphere there and everybody getting behind both teams. I’d say there was huge motivation and drive and determination and enthusiasm coming from the stand and the terraces. The buzz and the excitement and the desire for all supporters — and I’m certain it’s in Tipperary as well — is as big as ever.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved