JACKIE TYRRELL HAS played down the hype surrounding Kilkenny’s championship credentials, advising people not to read too much into their National Hurling League win.
Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s new-look Cork side were tipped as one of the Cats’ main threats this summer before they were blown out of the water in the league final, 3-21 to 0-16.
Kilkenny’s impressive performance that day has resurrected old arguments that the county’s strength is “killing” hurling and that their coronation as All-Ireland champions this September should be a formality.
But Tyrrell dismissed the idea as “crazy talk” and said that the league can’t always be taken as an accurate barometer of counties’ championship potential.
“Twelve months ago, we were gone. Dublin beat us in the league final, but look what happened then after that,” the All-Ireland winning captain told TheScore.ie at the launch of Opel’s Kit for Clubs scheme.
The league is the league; some teams put big emphasis on it, some don’t. We put a lot into it, we won it and we were delighted with it but at the end of the day, it’s only the league. We were wiped off the field last year and we still went on to have a good year after it.
After the Cork game in the league this year [which Cork won by two points], everyone thought we were struggling and Cork were going to overtake us. It’s all about your last game really and it’s just the fact that we had such a big win in the league final that people are starting to talk like this.
Kilkenny’s blistering start in Semple Stadium that day saw them race into a 2-6 to 0-1 lead inside the opening 10 minutes and Tyrrell feels that Cork’s young players struggled to bounce back from that.
“In the league final, I think the start we got and with the young players they had, it just seemed to faze them. They seemed very nervous and jittery on the ball. In fairness to our forwards, any chances they got they put them away.
“I think the second half of the league final was going through the motions. Cork had given up at that stage so the score didn’t really reflect how dominant we were. There’s not that much between Kilkenny and Cork, you only have to look at the first game.”
Since last September’s All-Ireland success, Eddie Brennan, Michael Kavanagh, John Dalton and James “Cha” Fitzpatrick have all hung up their hurls but the competition for places within the squad hasn’t become any less intense, Tyrrell adds.
People were saying that with lads retiring, we mightn’t be under pressure or the competition for places mightn’t be as fierce. I can tell you, it’s as fierce as ever. You look at Matthew Ruth, Cillian Buckley, Richie Doyle, Paddy Hogan. They all had very good league campaigns and they’re all going to pushing for places.
Injuries to Henry Shefflin, who missed the entire league campaign, and Richie Hogan also opened up an opportunity for some new faces to force their way into the panel.
“It probably forced Brian’s hand a bit and he threw them in at the deep end and they came out well. Looking back at it now, it was probably a blessing in disguise for him.”
- Jackie Tyrell was speaking as a brand ambassador for Opel Kit for Clubs. For more information, see www.opelkitforclubs.com