Friday 28 October 2016

Kilkenny's players have changed but attitude remains

Cillian Buckley of Kilkenny
Cillian Buckley of Kilkenny

If apparently no less inclined to be beaten, Kilkenny are surely a more interesting team when they have imperfections.

In those many years when they have simply mowed down the rest of hurling's wannabes, Brian Cody's team have been difficult to dissect and analyse.

On successive weekends now, Waterford have exposed plenty of blemishes, presenting us with talking points ahead of the All-Ireland final, though the attitude and application was unmistakable.

"Straight away we regrouped, faced up that we needed to improve and managed to address a few things," Cillian Buckley reflected.

"We knew we were facing a different challenge in Waterford, it wasn't your usual semi-final."

That Cody dropped three players - including Buckley's half-back colleague, Kieran Joyce - illustrates his acceptance of their flaws from the drawn match.


That Liam Blanchfield had a stormer at corner-forward on his debut in the replay, despite being deemed not quite good enough to come off the bench the first day, suggests Cody's backup isn't quite as callow as it ha been depicted.

"First of all we had to pat ourselves on the back for still being in this but we definitely acknowledged that there was more there in us and there needed to be more in us," Buckley explained.

Michael Fennelly's Achilles injury will severely weaken the team, though.

Cody admitted "it's not going to be simple" to manage to a participative conclusion with regard to the All-Ireland final but it would, it seems, require a Henry Shefflin 2010 effort to get Fennelly onto the pitch on September 4.

"We always know we have the ability to close out games, we have serious leaders there and we have lads putting up their hands," Buckely continued and in that, Kilkenny haven't changed, even if the players have.

"There was nothing between the two teams and we just had that extra bit at the end and came out the right side of the result."

Even when they're not quite perfect, they always do.

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