|Kilkenny hurling team dominate their sport|
It must be hard to be the best at what you do and have everybody against you, I suppose everyone naturally wants the underdog to come out on top. If a team is focused properly and have their heads in the right spot it’s possible to overcome this I believe.
Even though Galway beat Kilkenny in the Leinster final and subsequently drew with them in the first All-Ireland game, Kilkenny were still favourites to win. Henry Shefflin showed the whole country how not to lose a championship final in an amazing display.
Everybody thought that we had seen Kilkenny’s hand. Kilkenny were not used to going behind so much like they did against Galway and we saw a new side to them. I really thought that this was as good as they got. I was sure Galway was going to go away from the first game having seen all of this and come back with an answer. When you have the players it’s easy to come up with the solutions when the problems are pointed out for you.
For the first time in many years, the Kilkenny team showed signs of fatigue. Along with this, great players like Tommy Walsh (who I’d have as one of my favourite players ever) not giving it stick when Kilkenny needed it. After two great displays by Galway, people didn’t know what to think, was it that Galway were really that good or were Kilkenny slowing down. Going into the All-Ireland replay Galway had beaten them 1 ½ times, which when you think of it is huge. But the provincial titles mean less these days and Kilkenny over any other team know this, that said, for Galway to win the Leinster Title was sweet.
The final whistle hadn’t blown when the question was raised, if Henry Shefflin was the greatest hurler of all time? There are few who might disagree. The man now has 9 All-Ireland championship senior medals which is incredible. He’s being called Henry the 9th! I heard a few people giving out about this title; I think it’s safe to say these people would not be freestaters! I remember when President Obama came to visit his cousin Henry Healy in Co. Offaly last year, that Henry was called Henry the 8th as he is 8th cousin to the President and nobody seemed to care and to be honest, that Henry would be closer to the bone!
Leaving all the Henry’s aside, for me, the real reason why Kilkenny are still All-Ireland champions, is because of the mastermind behind them. Brian Cody was a hardy hurler in his day and he took that into management with him. It was said that he was hard to read as a player and the same can be said about him as a manager.
As I said earlier, a lot seem to think that we knew Kilkenny’s form and we had seen their hand. Cody knew that this was the case. For me his choice to start Walter Walsh, unknown to most outside his own County, who scored 1-3 and made a name for himself was one of Cody’s finest hours. For Cody to have the balls to start him in an All-Ireland replay has to be admired, Walsh must have been playing out of his skin in training. Before the game people were saying that Brian Cody was taking a gamble, Cody doesn’t really do gambles, he doesn’t need to!
I met a Kilkenny man during the week and he was telling about the problems they were having in Kilkenny hospital with women in labour (not the political party) that they were having trouble giving birth. As you could imagine I was surprised and was very interested. He said they had no problem getting the new born out it was the hurl in its hand that was causing all the trouble, he caught me well!
The crazy thing about the celebration on the field after the game was that you could swear it was their first win in 20 years. Whatever about it looking like being their first; it might be the last for a few. Could Shefflin go for another year? Of course he could and the lure of a 10th medal would certainly be the carrot and with Cody using the stick to drive them all on.