Brian Cody was at home in front of the television but Kilkenny carried on regardless as the Cats eased past Galway in the National Hurling League semifinal on Sunday.
Cody missed a big game for the first time in his stint as Cats boss after a recent operation for a heart problem, but his side managed just fine without him.
Star forward Henry Shefflin, still a doubt for the Championship, was also marked on the absent list as Kilkenny wrapped up a 1-24 to 1-17 win over the Leinster champions.
Selectors Michael Dempsey and Martin Fogarty took charge in Cody’s absence as Kilkenny carried on winning. Dempsey admitted it was strange not to have Cody on the sideline.
He said, “It wasn’t the same at all. It his probably killing him not to be here today, but he is getting on very well.
“Brian has being around for too long not to have an influence still, so really it is much the same and we are all conscious of his absence.”
Kilkenny will now meet Tipp in the league final after a clinical display against Galway in a repeat of last year’s All-Ireland decider.
Dempsey added, “Obviously we are happy with the result. Galway put it up to us early on and scored a goal and had us a bit rattled early on.
“We were slightly nervous and Galway got into the ascendancy, but we fought back well and got off to the second half strongly. We missed a few goal chances, but when we got the goal it made it easier for us after that.”
Galway’s rhythm was upset by a clash of heads between Fergal Moore and Kilkenny youngster Walter Walsh. Moore suffered a concussion and was still under observation in Clonmel hospital on Tuesday.
Galway selector Tom Helebert admitted, “It was a disappointing finish. We were targeting to make it a hot contest. We had a very good start and we certainly turned up with the right frame of mind and the right start, but we didn’t sustain it.”
Nowlan Park in Kilkenny will host the Allianz League final on Sunday, May 5 when the Cats will play their fierce rivals Tipperary thanks to a home and away agreement between the counties.
The All-Ireland champions travelled to Thurles when the sides last met at this stage of the competition but this will be the first league decider at Nowlan Park.
Tipp Overwhelms Dubs in Semi
TIPP players surprised even their manager Eamon O’Shea with their superiority all down the field in a big NHL semifinal win over Dublin in Thurles on Sunday.
Tipp will now meet Kilkenny in the league final after a 4-20 to 0-17 victory.
O’Shea admitted, “I was expecting it to be a really tight game to be honest. Dublin didn’t probably show their true colors today. We got a bit of a run on them which meant that they were under pressure and we kept on the pressure for a lot of the game.”
After blooding several players over the course of the league, O’Shea is excited by the summer ahead.
“In fairness everybody is pushing hard for their places and they are a model outfit to work with. The players are really dedicated and I have nothing but praise for them,” he said.
Tipp forward Shane Bourke felt three first-half goals proved vital for his side.
He told RTE, “It’s always important to get a good start. We knew Dublin were going to come hard at us early on so we just needed to be up for it.”
Dublin were well and truly beaten from start to finish by Tipp, and Blues boss Anthony Daly was far from happy with the 15 point defeat.
He said, “I’m very disappointed now. We stood off in the first half and if you stand off those lads you will be punished. We would have done a heavy couple of weeks training, but it’s hard to put your finger on that to be honest.”
Dubs Not Worried Over Suspension
DUBLIN are confident that the suspension threatened against one of their players for biting Donegal’s Paddy McBrearty in a recent NFL game will be lifted.
The GAA is to hold a hearing into the incident, but the Dublin County Board believe the lack of evidence will see the ban lifted.
Dubs boss Jim Gavin is happy to abide by the association’s procedures as he prepares for Sunday’s NFL final against Tyrone.
“There is a process there to take place and we all need that due process take place. The process is ongoing. I think it would be unfair of me to put any prejudice on it by making an uninformed comment until I see what they say,” said Gavin.
Cork Minors Win
CORK managed to hold on for a one point win over Cavan in the All-Ireland under 21 semifinal in Tullamore on Saturday and will now play Galway in the decider after their victory over Kildare at the same venue . . .
FORMER Tipperary dual player Brian Coen is free to play for the Wicklow footballers against Longford next month after appearing for his club St. Patrick’s in a hurling game last weekend . . .
JOE McMahon may play for Tyrone against Dublin in Sunday’s NFL final at Croke Park, but Peter Harte is definitely out with a hamstring injury . . .
ALL-Ireland winner David Walsh is back in training with Donegal and should be eligible for the Ulster SFC opener against Tyrone next month.
Celtic Seals SPL Title
MIDFIELDER Joe Ledley has urged the Celtic squad to stick together and mount a serious challenge for domestic and European glory next season.
Ledley joined Gary Hooper (two) and substitute Georgios Samaras on the scoresheet in the 4-1 win over Inverness that wrapped up the title on Sunday.
Hooper and midfielder Victor Wanyama are wanted by a host of Premier League clubs in England but Ledley wants them to stay at Parkhead.
He said, “There will always be ins and outs at every club. We have a fantastic team and I’ll be very surprised if everyone stays.
“Everyone has watched in the Champions League and SPL and there’s going to be a lot of interest in the majority of the players. But if we can keep it together, we have a fantastic future and Celtic will go forward and hopefully qualify for the Champions League again.”
Ledley’s attentions will now turn to the double and the Scottish Cup final date with Hibs, another game they will be expected to win.
Like Ledley, Celtic boss Neil Lennon wants to keep his best players at the club. He has already offered Irish striker Anthony Stokes a new deal, and wants his board to do everything they can to keep Hooper at the club.
Lennon said, “I am confident Gary will stay but that’s just my feeling. I have made my submissions to the board regarding Gary.
“I haven’t really spoken to his agent lately at length but I would like to keep Gary here because he is such an important player.”
Forced to watch Sunday’s win from the stands after picking up a three game touchline ban, Lennon was emotional after his team received the Scottish title trophy again.
He said, “My overwhelming emotion is one of immense pride in the players. The second half was indicative of the way they have played not only this season but the three seasons I have been here.”
Celtic captain Scott Brown missed the Inverness game after his recent surgery but he plans to return to action in time for next month’s William Hill Scottish Cup final against his old club Hibernian when Wanyama and Beram Kayal are both suspended.
“I’m still a wee bit from training with the first team but, if everything goes well, hopefully I’ll be back for the cup final. That’s my target but it will be touch and go,” Brown said.
“I’m feeling quite good, I’ve been back running. It’s been four weeks since the operation now and I will take things slowly.”
First Defeat for Sligo
AIRTRICITY Premier Division champions Sligo Rovers suffered their first league defeat of the season when St. Pat’s pulled off an impressive 2-0 win at Richmond Park on Friday night.
Shamrock Rovers went down 2-1 to high flying Derry City at the Brandywell while Drogheda’s resurgence continued with a 3-2 win at home to UCD.
Limerick hammered Bray 4-0 in Wicklow, Shels drew 1-1 at Cork and Dundalk beat Bohs 2-0 at Dalymount.