Kilkenny attacker Colin Fennelly has hit back at Ger Loughnane’s controversial comments about the Cats, labeling them ‘absolutely crazy’ and insisting ‘what he said means nothing’.
Experienced Fennelly, a four-time All-Ireland medallist and ex-All Star, admitted he’s disappointed with Clare legend Loughnane’s suggestion that Kilkenny shouldn’t be going for three All-Irelands in a row with the present team.
Pundit Loughnane described Kilkenny as ‘functional beyond belief’ and claimed they’re ‘totally dependent on TJ Reid, one forward, and maybe Richie Hogan as well’.
The two-time All-Ireland winning manager also attributed much of their success to long serving boss Brian Cody though Fennelly took umbrage at the remarks. Ironically, Kilkenny scored 6-20 just last weekend in the Allianz league quarter-finals against Offaly despite being without Reid and Hogan, both of whom were rested.
“I thought it was weird what he said, I was probably more disappointed than anything with what he said,” said Fennelly. “What was it that he said, that we shouldn’t have won the last two All-Irelands? It’s weird because in 2014, there’s four competitions there to be won and we won all four of them. It’s very unusual for any team to do that.
“You have to win so many games to win all four trophies. It’s not pure luck you win all those competitions or all those games. I don’t know, is Ger out of the game too long he doesn’t realise all the hard work you put into winning?
“Last year as well, you had a Kilkenny club team (Ballyhale Shamrocks) winning an All-Ireland and the county team winning, that’s unusual again and just shows the strength in depth in the county to do what we’ve done and do it both years.”
Fennelly scored 2-1 against Offaly while fringe players Kevin Kelly and Liam Blanchfield supplied 2-10 between them, setting up a league semi-final date with Loughnane’s native Clare.
Fennelly said the performance was a timely reminder Kilkenny don’t rely exclusively on Reid and Hogan, the 2015 and 2014 Hurler of the Year recipients respectively.
“Exactly, it just goes to show what he (Loughnane) said means absolutely nothing. It doesn’t faze us at all.”
Fennelly agreed the comments will provide Kilkenny with undoubted motivation throughout the rest of the season. “That’s true,” said the 26-year old. “When I heard it, I was kind of like, ‘that’s absolutely crazy’. We didn’t have Richie or TJ playing the other day and it makes no difference whatsoever. Kevin Kelly came in, took every free and slotted every free over the bar which probably TJ didn’t do any of the other days.
“On a wet day, it was very hard, it was his first game in a while, but he put every ball over the bar so things do not change.”
Fennelly also disputed the theory Kilkenny, who have made minimal substitutions in games throughout 2015 and 2016 so far, lack strength in depth in their panel. “I remember as a young lad alright looking at the subs on the bench of the four-in-a-row team and it was amazing,” said Fennelly.
“You could have had a second team, it was great. But if you go to 2014 even, we used so many subs that year. And people are saying, ‘oh, the bench is not as good now’ but then when you look at that year we used so many subs so the strength in depth is there.”
Fennelly and brother Michael both suffered hamstring injuries in the win over Offaly along with full-back Robert Lennon. Both Fennellys are expected to be available for the Clare game though Lennon is facing four to six weeks out. Paul Murphy is doubtful for the Clare game with a shoulder problem.
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