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Six notes after Kilkenny’s league final dismantling of Tipperary

Kilkenny flipped the narrative on what was meant to be a poor league campaign.

  • Cody’s not going anywhere

The rumblings of the Brian Cody Kilkenny train coming to a stuttering stop were incredibly premature. After a dismal start to the league, with two losses in their opening two games, Cody has steadied the ship and people have gone from lamenting the old guard to celebrating the new young guns.

The tactical mastermind is ushering in a new era of talent, delivering Cody’s ninth league title and their first in 2014. Kilkenny are now back on the map of potential All-Ireland winners, with the likes of Colin Fennelly, Richie Hogan and Paul Murphy yet to return for the Leinster campaign.

Cody was never going anywhere. The Cats are back. Did they ever even leave?

  • TJ Reid – the best in the country?

One of the old guard is TJ Reid, who is re-establishing himself as perhaps the best hurler in the country. He was imperious yesterday, and talismanic all year in getting Kilkenny back to a league final.

You could argue Kilkenny have an over-reliance on the Ballyhale man, contributing 0-15 to their total yesterday, but he truly is the fulcrum that brings all the spokes on the wheel together. He was all over the field; chasing, harrying, creating space and pulling the strings for his young teammates.

He was laser accurate from placed balls. He can do everything very well, it’d be hard to find another forward with so many strengths to his game.

  • Tipperary full back-line woes

A familiar criticism thrown at Tipperary has reared its head again, with another dismal display from their full back-line. James Barry regressed last year and after missing the early league games, had been reinstalled at full back and yesterday had shown to be past his best yet again.

Alan Flynn was more accomplished at right corner back, but it wasn’t until Páidi Maher went further deep did Tipperary look sturdier, which suggests they may consider a permanent change at #3 and bring Cathal Barrett back to his more familiar surroundings at corner back. Either way, Michael Ryan simply has to rectify Tipperary’s Achilles heel to have any hope of reclaiming All-Ireland gold.

  • Future is bright in Kilkenny

Kilkenny’s current age profile makes for exciting reading, should they drive on after yesterday’s victory. Some ages are not available, but Kilkenny won the league final at a canter with only one player in his 30s and the majority U21 in recent years.

  1. Eoin Murphy (27)
  2. Joey Holden (27)
  3. Padraig Walsh (26)
  4. Paddy Deegan (22)
  5. Conor Delaney (U21)
  6. Cillian Buckley (25)
  7. Enda Morrissey (U21)
  8. Richie Leahy (21)
  9. James Maher (20-21)
  10. Martin Keoghan (19)
  11. TJ Reid (30)
  12. John Donnelly (U21)
  13. Bill Sheehan (20-21)
  14. Walter Walsh (26)
  15. Alan Murphy (21)
  • Tipp’s attacking rotation

The Tipperary attackers didn’t have much success winning their own ball yesterday. It was coming back as quickly as it went forward, as Kilkenny outfought and outstripped their Tipp foes to nearly ever ball in the second half.

The attacking unit should look a lot different when the Munster campaign begins, with the returns of Seamus Callanan, Noel McGrath, Dan McCormack and Patrick Maher. John O’Dwyer should start from the beginning also. In addition to John McGrath and Jason Forde, that means four forwards that started yesterday may miss out when Tipp travel to the Gaelic Grounds at the end of May if Tipp play their best available XV. On the evidence of yesterday, they need their attackers to start winning the ball aerially, or else play to their strengths and find a way to find them quick and low on the ground, where their hurling excels.

But they do have options, more so than previous years, and were deadly efficient throughout the league and in the semi-final against Limerick. As mentioned earlier, their problems lie further back the field.

  • TG4 is the best in the business

It was well documented yesterday, but a word of praise to TG4 who showed us a glimpse into the future of television coverage in GAA. They showed puckouts from behind the goal, rather than from the sideline, giving the viewer a better picture of what was going on down the field. It actually really illustrated how dominating Kilkenny were in the half back-line, to Daragh Mooney’s dismay.

In addition, they had replays in a smaller box in the corner so viewers weren’t missing out on the live action. It happens so often where a replay means we miss something happening live, but this small but very clever feature has really changed the game. Bravo TG4.

Photo Credit: Padraig Hogan

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