Kilkenny hurling legend DJ Carey gives his views on the latest action in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship
All of us in Kilkenny are licking our wounds this week. I know as supporters we are not half as disappointed as the players are, and yet we must admire what Wexford have done, where they have come from and, more significantly, where they are going.
A massive amount of credit must go to Davy Fitzgerald – I couldn’t listen to anyone criticising the style of game that Wexford, or Waterford, or any other county adopts.
I stood back and looked at the game and wondered how in God’s name you could play against a team like Wexford. They were up and down the field, occupying different positions, and they are excellent players as well. We have to take our hats off to them.
Over the lifetime of Brian Cody’s reign in Kilkenny, and particularly since the end of my playing career, Wexford have often been a soft touch and the Leinster Championship was worse off for that. Now, though, I believe they are capable of being back in the big time.
As I said, it’s obvious Wexford had their game plan down to a ‘T’. Davy’s specially constructed box was a novelty, but I think the lads on the line did everything he would have. And the whole thing says to me – a manager can really prepare a team, but it’s up to the players to deliver on the field.
Some people said Kilkenny would be extra motivated after the league quarter-final defeat, but I think that’s a myth to be honest. By that I mean that in the 18 seasons I hurled with Kilkenny, there were lots of wins and losses, but I never felt I had an advantage over a team if we had been beaten by them and were meeting again soon after. You should be going out with all guns blazing in every game, and approaching every game with the same attitude.
It’s great for hurling that we have more teams coming back into contention, and the support they will bring with them. Unless we have that the game will die on its feet. Now the championship is wide open and even the teams in the qualifiers are not a million miles away.
Wexford will know after Sunday who they will meet in the final. I’ve seen Galway up close a few times this season and I think that they have the potential to be phenomenal. Their striking, strength and skill are top class.
I was at the Bord na Mona Walsh Cup final and they weren’t great, but then after getting to the Allianz League final, everyone saw how brilliant they were against Tipperary. If it’s the Galway that played against Tipp show up for the rest of the season, they could blow other teams away. But, if not, other teams are obviously in with a great chance and I actually didn’t think they were as impressive against Dublin in the Leinster Championship.
It would be silly to suggest it will be a 50-50 game against Offaly. My admiration for Offaly is that while they are struggling at present, there is a group of guys there that are doing their best to keep them at this level. It’s the same with some of the weaker football counties, you have to admire the players who put on the jersey and pit themselves against the best.
Offaly may be beaten against the top teams, but they will keep trying and they came from behind to beat Westmeath, which meant a lot to them after last year. I don’t think it will be Offaly’s day against Galway, but with some other counties not going great either, they may get another win through the qualifiers.