Brian Cody would have no problem acceding to Galway’s wishes to enter into home and away agreements in the Leinster senior hurling championship and their minor and U21 teams to be incorporated into the province.
Although the Kilkenny manager was not aware of Galway’s unanimous vote on Monday night in favour of their hurlers entering a single provincial structure, he recognises the value of having the Tribesmen in the senior competition and would happy to face them in Pearse Stadium – “wherever the match is fixed for, we’ll play, simple as that. That’ll be it. We don’t have power over that.”
He also favours Galway’s minors and U21s be permitted to play in Leinster.
Overall, he sees them as having benefitted the province. “Galway are a top team and having them over there on their own with regards to senior inter-county matches is certainly not ideal for them and for hurling in general. They’ve been a huge part of the Leinster championship. I’d prefer to see them stay there.”
Also speaking at the launch of the January 26 Dublin business lunch in aid of St Kieran’s College’s plans for a national centre of excellence, former Kilkenny player Michael Rice said it was his personal hope Galway remained in Leinster.
“It would definitely strengthen the whole thing if they stay in it, in terms of the competitiveness, there’s no doubt about that.
“But are you going to lose something in the likes of a Wexford or an Offaly where I presume their thinking is ‘if we get to a Leinster final it’s something to be celebrated, something to really build on’?
“Wexford are coming strong at U21, maybe Wexford would benefit from it as well if they did beat Galway in a Leinster championship.
“There are pros and cons to both sides of it.”
The inter-county retirement of Cody’s James Stephens clubmate Eoin Larkin after fellow Village man Jackie Tyrrell ends the link to Kilkenny’s four-in-a-row team from 2006 to ’09 but Cody isn’t one for thinking it’s the end of an era.
“I don’t tend to focus on four-in-a-row, or whatever it was we won.
“We won those All-Irelands and that’s for sure but all the other ones matter in the same way to everyone who was involved with them. It’s a privilege to everyone who was part and parcel of them but that’s it, we’re not dwelling on what did happen.”
Cody praised the two men. “Jackie and Eoin have had massive careers. Jackie made that position his own for so long. He had such a physical presence allied to his skill and reading of the game. He’s had a wonderful career.
“He captained Kilkenny to win an All-Ireland final and was a huge leader, a huge presence there and got so much out of his career.
“Eoin was just a wonderful player. Everybody talks about Eoin and they talk about a work-rate and obviously he epitomised that but his skill level was complete as well. He had it all.”
Cody also gave updates on Kilkenny’s long-term injuries – Michael Fennelly, Ger Aylward and James Maher.
“Michael’s just recovering. He’s had an Achilles tendon operation.
“He’s in rehab at the moment and will be out for a few months. He’s absolutely going to give it every possible chance to come back.
“He (Aylward) had a cruciate operation last year. He played a couple of club matches just, I suppose, because of his dedication to his club he came on and played. He’s still working to get back properly and that. He’s very determined to get there. James (Maher) is working hard as well too. Again, a small bit off being perfect but he’s working hard.”
Cody revealed Kilkenny are likely to field an U21 side for the opening Walsh Cup game against DCU on January 5 as the team only return from holiday the following day.
The seniors will populate the match-day panel for the remainder of the competition.
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