It’s been a difficult 18 months or so for Kilkenny hurling. In September 2016, the Cats were hot on the heels of yet another three-in-a-row in the final against Tipperary. As we all know, the Premier came out on top that day, and the Cats have slipped down the pecking order ever since.
Fresh from their third consecutive loss to Wexford, this time in the Walsh Cup final during which Brian Cody was sent to the stands, the men in black and amber have lost their opening two games in the Allianz National Hurling League.
The retirement of some of the greatest players to ever grace a hurling field is always going to be tough to deal with, and maintaining such high standards was going to end at some point.
Lar Corbett feels that Cody’s frustrations and aggressions on the sideline can be put down to the reduced number of leaders on the field.
“He has a high level of aggression on the sideline, but I think his level of aggression is after raising another bit and being sent to the stand is a worrying thing for maybe himself, his backroom team and his players.
“So, you can only have a certain level of aggression and see how far it gets you.
“I don’t know why he’s doing it but it’s true that the leaders that he had, the leaders that were developed year on year over a seven to 10 year period and they held on. When you’re looking for leaders now, it’s hard to know where they are, they don’t have them in the same abundance that they had them before.”
Kilkenny head to Waterford this weekend knowing that a loss may end their hopes of reaching the league quarter-final. That, in itself, adds pressure for the players, but motivation is never an issue for Cody’s Cats.
“When you play for Kilkenny and Brian Cody is the manager, you have to remember that there’s pressure on you to perform. If you don’t perform, you’re coming out. We all know that Brian Cody is very quick to make decisions and after 22 minutes in the last game, he took someone off.
“He’s very quick to make decisions and the pressure is on when you’re there, there’s no question about that.”
The Cats have three games in this Division 1A campaign remaining, and there is sure to be an edge in each and every one of them, as old rivalries are renewed with Waterford, Tipperary and Wexford.
Lar Corbett was speaking at the launch of the new Laochra Gael series on TG4, which starts on February 28.