Hurling pundit Daithí Regan claims Brian Cody attempted to influence referees with his pre-Division 1 final comments earlier this month.
The Newstalk and TV3 analyst also said Cork will need to lose an All-Ireland final to realise the intensity required to win one. He also believes starlet Conor Lehane will face a stronger brand of physicality from Kilkenny, should the teams face one another in the championship.
Earlier this month, Cody said the GAA were making attempts to take “genuine physicality out of hurling”. But Offaly’s 1994 All-Ireland winner feels, while not dirty, they are getting away with playing illegally at times.
“I think that Brian Cody by coming out with statements like that is influencing referees to keep doing what they’re doing in a subtle kind of way, no more so than Alex Ferguson (he) is a very strong character.
“Human nature being what it is, the stronger the team you are, the stronger the character you are and more successful you are as a manager, more will be thought of what you say as opposed to the Carlow manager making the same statement.
“From his point of view, it was the right thing to do. He wants to see it continued to be refereed and what he was saying was you can expect the same physicality from Kilkenny this year.”
Regan outlined one of the covert ploys he believes Kilkenny perform in getting the better of teams. “Simple things like a little tug on the arm to slow a guy down and a second attacker or defender comes in.
“It’s not dirty but it’s illegal, it’s bordering on illegal, and referees are letting it go because we’ve all lauded the last three All-Ireland finals, which have been outstanding.
“The way hurling is being refereed at the moment suits the way Kilkenny play hurling.”
Regan believes Kilkenny’s physical hurling stems from the mid-’00s when they discovered a way of taking on Cork’s running style.
“I think they’ve maintained it. The only team that have stepped up to that physicality have been Tipp. I don’t think anyone else has met it which is why I don’t see anybody else. Particularly Cork.
“I think Cork will have to suffer an All-Ireland defeat at that intensity before they realise winning an All-Ireland final.”
Regan was impressed with how Lehane handled the close attention of Kilkenny defenders in his two outings against Kilkenny this year. But he warned: “If he comes up against them again he can expect it.”
Regan also fears Lar Corbett is taking a risk returning to the Tipperary panel. “It’s been well recognised that he got a bit of abuse in Tipp last year after not hurling well. It’s a fickle industry, it’s a fickle business and he’s the type of player that’s unique and he’s an easy target if it doesn’t go well.”
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