KILKENNY CAPTAIN BRIAN Hogan was quick to signal his teammates back to the task at hand after Sunday’s 4-24 to 1-15 destruction of arch-rivals, Tipperary.
Hogan was at the heart of a commanding display from the reigning All Ireland champions at Croke Park and the O’Loughlin Gaels said the win – the latest in a lengthy saga of crucial meetings between the neighbouring counties – was “right up there” with any he had experienced.
However, having said the words, Hogan instantly re-connected the green and yellow wire.
“We’ve nothing won which is the important factor to remember,” he said with the county’s seventh consecutive All Ireland final secured, “but it is great to put a performance like that together. It’s very satisfying but we must stay grounded now.
“We haven’t won anything. We lost a Leinster championship and we don’t want to lose an All-Ireland championship.”
Their opponents in the September 9 show-piece will be Galway, who inflicted the Cats with their first Championship defeat since 2010. The defeat still rankles with them, but Hogan insists that confidence in the camp wasn’t shook and he expressed a relief that the loss arrived with the back door still open and not in the final knockout phase.
“To a man, the performance [against Galway] was good. Every one had to look at themselves to see if there was something left in the tank.
“We were as keen for it as ever though. We just needed to go back to the drawing board, much like the league final the year before against Dublin. We needed to be honest with ourselves, get back to basics and that’s what we did.”
The basics have served them well. Particularly when compared with Tipperary’s farcical extreme-man-marking tactic. Hogan, 31, says he was too busy concentration marking his own man to look at what was unfolding up the field, but added:
“It’s something that happens against us. Teams come up with variations and you have to deal with that. It can be unusual. But as much as you can, you try to stick to your own game plan.”
In just under three weeks’ time, Kilkenny’s game-plan may well consist of three words: Stop Joe Canning.
On Sunday’s form, the rest will take care of itself.