Former Kilkenny selector Martin Fogarty warns the county’s exceptional replay record under Brian Cody will count for nothing against Waterford in Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final rematch.
And Fogarty admits there are no guarantees the Cats can find the necessary improvements to see off Derek McGrath’s side at the second time of asking.
A three-point loss to Dublin in the 2013 Leinster SHC semi-final is the only time Kilkenny have failed to finish the job in a championship replay under Cody’s watch. And Fogarty, recently appointed the GAA’s new National Hurling Development Manager, said: “Records are in the past — it doesn’t count.
“You can say on paper it does but these are two new teams, different individuals, a new game. It’s easy to look back but the past has nothing to do with the present. Kilkenny will be looking for an improvement and if Waterford come with the same effort, they’ll need an improvement.
“The questions lie with whether they can find it or not – possibly but there’s nothing definite about it. I’m expecting something similar, I think Waterford will come again.
“They’re nice and lively and some of the scores they hit were unbelievable but we’re getting those in the last few years, points hit in a millisecond from all angles and going over.”
Fogarty anticipated a huge challenge from Waterford last Sunday, provided they could avoid the concession of early “sucker punches.” And he believes the key to Waterford’s chances on Saturday is the prevention of Kilkenny goals - at Croke Park the Déise leaked just that crucial late effort from Walter Walsh.
Fogarty explained: “I felt if Waterford could bring their A game and avoid an early freak score, they’d have every chance.
“That’s how it worked out — they did bring their A game and weren’t hit with sucker punches at any stage early on.
“It was the same Waterford team that played Tipperary but that day they were a little flat for whatever reason. They got hit with a couple of sucker punches and when that happens to most teams, it’s curtains.
“That’s the way I saw the thing panning out and I wouldn’t be seeing Saturday’s replay panning out any different. Both teams are capable of winning — it depends on a team being able to come to the field fresh for a start.
“That’s the first thing and then it depends, in particular, on Waterford not getting hit with a goal or two against the run of play, which can happen quite easily.”
Fogarty accepts Kilkenny didn’t play well last Sunday — but he was pleased with the team’s ability to hang in there and eke out a result when all looked lost.
He added: “They didn’t play well but you could say the same thing in last year’s All-Ireland final in the first-half.
“We weren’t playing well, no two ways about it, but for the last good few years they’re bringing that mentality that regardless of the score, they’re still giving their best.
“Their best might not be what we want all the time but they’re giving it. If you do that, you’re giving yourself a chance of getting back into the game.
“There were no guarantees last week, the game looked to be gone but what was in it? Two pucks of a ball and the hurling ball is so small and the game so fast that the game can turn on a sixpence.
“The key thing there is that when your back is against the wall, and you’re down three or four points, that you don’t allow it to go to six, seven, eight.
“When you get a chance to come back, the obstacle is not as high as it could have been.
“That comes from winning matches at the death and coming back in games, believing the game is not over until the final whistle.
“It’s very hard to do that but it’s like a long-distance runner who could be on a lad’s shoulder for 10 or 15 kilometres. He either has the mental strength to hang in there and get a burst but if you say you can’t do it, you’ll go back twice as far.”
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