Eddie Keher says Ger Loughnane may change his tune about Kilkenny by the end of this season.
In a recent interview, the former Clare manager described the All-Ireland champions as “functional beyond belief” and claimed “a team with that talent should not be winning an All-Ireland”.
His remarks were rubbished by Colin Fennelly last week and Keher feels Loughnane could be forced into a change of opinion.
“He might change his mind during the year. Over this great era of Kilkenny teams, players were slow to come often. It took a while for a lot of the big names to make it and I think the same is the case now.
“You can see a lot of the current lads being stars and maybe this year. There’ll be maybe six teams in contention but Kilkenny will be up there — even with this ordinary team!” laughed Keher.
“I think he (Loughnane) was comparing them with a few years ago when you had extraordinary players like Henry Shefflin and DJ (Carey) but this team is proving itself and I think he might have a different view by the end of next year.”
Keher says Kilkenny is more a team of equals than ever before under Brian Cody. “The thing about the team at the moment is that we have more options in every line than we ever had. We have options in the full-back line that we haven’t had (in recent years).
“There are about two strong options for the full-back line, two for the half-back line, two for centre-field and if you take the six forwards I’d say there are two or four there as well so it will be a strong team with lots of options.”
Cody’s influence, Keher says, has enveloped every grade of hurling in Kilkenny. “When you look at Brian’s attitude, that attitude permeates throughout the county, with club managers, school managers.
“It is extraordinary the attitude of young Kilkenny people and I enjoy looking at the young fellas carrying around hurls as if they were part of their uniforms. They just have this great attitude, this love for the game.
“I am not going to say that it is going to bring victory all of the time, but I think we will always be there or thereabouts.”
Ahead of Kilkenny’s Division 1 semi-final against Clare on Sunday, Keher admitted he was taken aback when Davy Fitzgerald brought in Dónal Óg Cusack as a coach/selector. “It seemed to me an unlikely partnership. He is obviously contributing something to it. It is surprising, he is keeping a low profile there as well but it remains to be seen how the partnership will keep things going.”
He knows how much Clare would love to beat Kilkenny.
“They are sort of playing it down, that it is not that important and that they are focusing on the Munster championship but I think it is a big game for them. It is a big game for Kilkenny too but I think Clare will be anxious to test themselves out against Kilkenny in preparation for the championship. They will be anxious to win it.”
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