Kilkenny’s simply stunning performance against a ramshackle Tipperary side in Sunday’s All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final again highlighted the sheer talent evident of this generation in Black and Amber.
But, it must be said that the tactics deployed by Premier manager Declan Ryan contributed as much to Tipp’s downfall as the Cody’s did, leaving everyone baffled following the final whistle.
The choice to put Lar Corbett man-marking wing back Tommy Walsh was one of the strangest in quite some time, with the Thurles man much more effective around the small square, a fact that has been so evident in recent years.
The only logic for it seemed to be that Walsh was awarded a yellow card early on in the game and placing the former Hurler of the Year on him might rile him to the point of committing a foul worthy of a second yellow.
Immediately, it was clear that moving the prolific sharpshooter on to Walsh was indeed quite a waste, with Corbett simply unable to threaten the Kilkenny defence and subsequent Tipperary attacks foiled time and time again.
Following the game, Kilkenny manager Brian Cody sounded quite perplexed as to why his opposition deployed such tactics. Speaking to the Irish Independent, he was unsure as to take the aforementioned tactics as a compliment to his team, or not.
“I don’t know because again I’m obviously not privy to what the Tipp lads wanted to do,” Cody smiled. “It appeared that he was trying to get onto Tommy or whatever. Look, it was just something that happened in front of our eyes and it had to be played out.”
In the Irish Times, captain Brian Hogan said of Corbett’s man-marking: “Teams come up with different tactics and usually they’ll try something but having two or three lads trying the same thing – it was a bit unusual but as backs we’re just there to react to whatever’s being thrown at you and to be fair that’s what the lads did.
“It’s something that’s been around for the past few years. Every team has come up with variations of different things, some very moderate and some fairly unusual but as much as you can you try to stick to your own game plan, obviously within reason if you’ve guys moving all over the place. ”
Meanwhile, Kilkenny’s TJ Reid admitted that his labelling of being just an impact substitution frustrated him hugely in the lead up to Sunday’s vital clash, but his performance against Tipperary certainly quietened his critics.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, the Ballyhale star forward felt inspired by such criticism and added that it riled up him before Sunday’s encounter.
“All week I have been hearing that and as a player you’d be pissed off hearing that,” he said. “That’s why I went out and tried to prove myself.”
And indeed he did, notching up an impressive 2-03 during his side’s demolition of Tipperary.
“I’m playing with the best hurlers in history probably – Henry Shefflin and Tommy Walsh. I’m not going to play with any other better players,” he added.
“For myself, it’s a privilege but at the end of the day I can’t just be looking at them. I have to be a leader as well and I suppose today I got the job.”
Kilkenny now look forward to an All-Ireland final on September 9th with Galway, their conquerors in the Leinster Final, waiting patiently in what should be an absolutely absorbing battle.