UNLIKE coach Brian Cody, Kilkenny captain James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick admitted that winning three All-Ireland titles in-a-row was a huge motivating factor for him and his colleagues.
“It’s easy to say it now after we have it won, but it certainly was in the back of most players’ minds going into the game,” said the midfielder who won an Irish Examiner National Junior Sports Star Award in 2004.
“Coming into the game we didn’t really talk about it — but we didn’t ignore it at the same time.
“It’s a massive achievement and it’s tremendous feeling to be part of such an achievement.”
He revealed that Cody had taken the squad away for weekends to develop the strength of unity between its players.
“Today’s victory could be put down to the team bonding sessions we had during the year.
“We went away to Wexford for a couple of those, and while it could make players fed up with seeing each so often, those weekends created great camaraderie among the players which we carried onto the field.’’
Though the game was over as a contest after Eddie Brennan’s devastating two goal burst but Fitzpatrick insisted he and his colleagues never relaxed until referee Barry Kelly’s final whistle sounded.
“Today we totally ignored the scoreboard. We knew it was important to get a good start and we did and we simply drove on from there.
“We were relentless in our pursuit of victory and never let up. Eddie (Brennan) chipped in with a couple of goals and we were never going to take the foot off the gas as has happened with other teams.”
Brennan, who finished the afternoon with 2-4, described the 2008 campaign as ‘the best year of this Kilkenny team.’
“The lads gave an exhibition of hurling out there and it’s a great feeling to be part of such a comprehensive win.
“No one came close to us and that is very satisfying also. It’s great when things go right for you because there will be days when they won’t. This has been the best year by far for this Kilkenny hurling team, and to achieve three-in-a-row is fantastic. We are in a very privileged position right now. Today’s display came from the many nights of hard training and the great panel of players we have at the moment.”
Like his captain he paid tribute to the panel which Cody has assembled.
“I cannot overstate the word panel, because without it we would not be where we are today that for sure. There are lads on the line who are more entitled to play that some of us, and it must be hard for them to sit there and watch it.
“It was brilliant to see James McGarry coming on. He has been inspirational behind the scenes and I was delighted for him that he got his chance to figure on this three-in-a-row winning team.”
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