Kilkenny legend DJ Carey insists the Cats will survive without retired forward Richie Power – and criticised would-be contenders for failing to step up to the mark during a transitional period for the All-Ireland champions.
Despite losing Henry Shefflin, Tommy Walsh, JJ Delaney, Brian Hogan, Aidan Fogarty and David Herity before last year’s championship, Kilkenny still stormed to All-Ireland glory.
And Carey believes that, “by the law of averages”, the Noresiders will be even better this year as they chase down another three in a row. The five-time All-Ireland SHC medallist reflected: “Would a lot of fellas be on the team if Henry was in his prime, Jackie (Tyrrell), Tommy, JJ, Noel Hickey?
“Possibly not but you know what? Time moves on, and Kilkenny won an All-Ireland against the head, in terms of the turnover they had. Let’s give Kilkenny credit but park it to one side and you also have say, why isn’t anybody else stepping up to the mark? Galway, Tipp, Dublin, Cork, where are ye?
“Kilkenny had a huge turnover of multi-talented players, a relative lack of big names and have struggled at U21 level in recent years so how are they able to keep it going when others are not? While Galway are trying to sort themselves out and other teams are struggling, or going backwards, Kilkenny move on and there is no valid reason for it except their will and want to win is more than others.
“I’m certainly not trying to incite any team here but Tipperary, for example, promised so much for so long and have never really stepped up to that mark.
“You might get someone criticising Kilkenny because they’re tough, hardy, dirty or whatever. They’re not, but they won’t let you walk through their defence. Kilkenny are champions, doing great and have a great manager but surely on the law of averages, with the talent around the country, others should be making a greater effort.”
Power has revealed his disappointment at having to cut short his inter-county career due to a persistent knee injury. Plagued by injury last season - Power’s championship involvement was nine minutes in the closing stages of September’s All-Ireland final - the 30-year old was advised to step away from the Kilkenny set-up following knee ligament surgery before Christmas.
The winner of eight All-Ireland medals said it was disappointing to be forced into retirement and while he “wouldn’t choose for it to end like this”, he was privileged to have “played alongside some of the greatest players ever to play the game of hurling and to be part of one of the greatest teams of all time managed by the greatest manager of all time, Brian Cody”.
Power also revealed the deep sense of pride he held at having emulated his father’s achievements in winning All-Ireland minor, U21 and senior medals.
“I know how fortunate I am to be able to look back on so many career highlights including the winning of two colleges, two minor, two U21 and eight senior All-Ireland medals, as well as being chosen on the All Star teams in 2010 and 2011. I am deeply grateful to all who helped me during my inter-county career, especially Brian [Cody], Michael Dempsey our fitness coach, Dr Tadgh Crowley and all the support team in Nowlan Park.”
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