Fergal Cantwell discusses the dominance of Kilkenny hurling as they gear up for Sunday’s massive All Ireland Final with Tipperary in Croke Park.
It is fair to say that Kilkenny have dominated the game of hurling since Brian Cody took over the reins back in 1999. His first year in charge ended with a heartbreaking defeat to Cork by the smallest of margins.
Since then, the landscape of the game has changed dramatically and next Sunday sees Kilkenny contest their thirteenth All Ireland Final in sixteen years. Let’s look at the Kilkenny record in numbers:
One – Titles Through The Back Door
If Henry Shefflin starts in this year’s final he will have started in fourteen All Ireland finals (2012 was a draw so he started in two that year). If Kilkenny manage to win, Henry will become the only man to win ten All Ireland medals.
He already holds the record for the most medals on the field of play. Last year was the one and only time that Kilkenny didn’t at least reach an All Ireland semi final under Cody. Kilkenny have won one All Ireland title through the back door in 2012.
Two – Times They Were Beaten In Semi -Finals
Kilkenny over this period of time under Brian Cody have been beaten in two All Ireland semi finals. Both defeats were at the hands of Galway in 2001 and 2005. Galway subsequently went on to lose both finals.
Barry Kelly from Westmeath takes charge in this years final. He has previously been the man in the middle in 2006, 2008 and 2012. Kilkenny contested all three and won two, the third being a draw against Galway.
Three – Times Cody Has faced Tipp In Al Ireland Finals
Brian Cody has faced Tipperary in three previous All Ireland hurling finals. They were three consecutive years, 2009, 2010 and 2011. Kilkenny won the first and last but Tipperary by winning the 2010 decider stopped the cats making history and winning five titles in a row.
Four – All Ireland Finals Versus Cork
Kilkenny under Brian Cody have contested four All Ireland finals against Cork. The years were 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2006 with Kilkenny winning in 2003, 2004 and 2006. This year’s final will see Tipperary make it four final appearances against them also.
Five – Doubles Won Since 1999
Since 1999, Kilkenny have won the double that is the League and All Ireland titles in the one year on five previous occasions. They have managed this feat in the years, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2012. This year they are again trying to complete another double.
Five different clubs in Kilkenny have had the honour of being represented by the winning captain. Ballyhale Shamrocks, Michael Fennelly 2009, James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick 2008 and Henry Shefflin 2007. James Stephens, Eoin Larkin 2012 and Jackie Tyrrell 2006. O’Loughlin Gaels, Brian Hogan 2011 and Andy Comerford 2002. Young Irelands, DJ Carey 2003. Glenmore, Willie O’Connor 2000.
Six -Times Cork Have Played In All Ireland Finals Since Cody Arrived
Cork have contested six All Ireland finals during the Cody era. They won three, 1999, 2004 and 2005 and they lost three, 2003, 2006 and 2013.
Seven – Number Of Consecutive Finals Played
Kilkenny contested seven consecutive All Ireland finals between 2006 and 2012. They won six of them. In the nine All Irelands that Kilkenny have won since 2000, they have beaten Munster opposition on seven occasions. Only Offaly in 2000 and Galway in 2012 were the odd ones out.
Eight – National Hurling Crowns Since 1999
Since 1999, Henry Shefflin, Noel Hickey, Eddie Brennan and Tommy Walsh have won eight or more All Ireland medals. Eight years ago Kilkenny stopped Cork winning three titles in a row and started out on their own run of four. Kilkenny have amassed eight National Hurling League crowns.
Nine – All Irelands Under Cody
Cats have nine lives and Kilkenny under Cody have nine All Ireland titles. They have unlucky for some thirteen Leinster titles. Henry Shefflin has nine All Ireland medals on the field of play.
Noel Hickey has nine All Ireland medals but won one in 2009 as a non-playing substitute and Tommy Walsh is hoping to join that elite group on nine medals if Kilkenny are successful next Sunday.
Ten – Titles Shefflin & Cody Hope To Win Together
Henry Shefflin and Brian Cody are trying to make their All Ireland title wins together, ten. It is hard to imagine that if they manage this feat that this record could ever be equaled, not to mention being broken.
Whatever happens next Sunday it promises to be an enthralling occasion. Kilkenny are again in search of claiming a bit of history but the same hype that accompanied their drive for five in 2010 is not evident.
They have bleeped loudly on everyone’s radar but not the same size bleep as in recent years. There is just one other number to take note of.
When people talk about this great Kilkenny team, remember this, fifty-three different players have taken to the field at some point or another under Brian Cody in just All Ireland finals. Now there’s a number to remember.
Fergal Cantwell, Pundit Arena.