Closing in on All-Irelands again, the ‘player-manager’ in Shefflin and keeping Cody for a 21st season
KILKENNY DEFENDER CILLIAN Buckley says he is ‘delighted’ to see manager Brian Cody staying on for his 21st season in charge of the senior hurlers.
Cody is the county’s longest serving and most successful manager having delivered 11 All-Ireland hurling titles over the last two decades, and Buckley is thrilled to have him at the helm again in 2019.
“We’re delighted,” he says.
“We weren’t far off this year in that Galway and Limerick were the two teams [that beat us] and ended up in the All-Ireland. We’re delighted that Brian is back to take it on again and [give us] more of the same.
We shouldn’t be far away. And be one of the teams contesting again.”
Cody elected not to discuss anything with the players before making a decision about his inter-county future last month, and as Buckley puts it, ‘we probably heard when ye heard.’
With the James Stephens clubman back on board, Kilkenny are now preparing for a trip to Australia where they will take on Galway in a battle for the Wild Geese Trophy later this month.
Kilkenny ‘s Cillian Buckley and Galway’s Pádraic Mannion.
Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO
The Cats booked their spot in this tie after winning the Division 1 National League title earlier this year, and while the visit Down Under might have a casual feel to it, Buckley says that the players have been instructed to compete for a victory.
This is partly the start of their 2019 campaign, and after bowing out of this year’s championship on the back of defeats to the eventual All-Ireland finalists, they’re eager to start making further strides for next season and get back to competing for All-Irelands again.
“We weren’t too long off the pitch and it was a nice cherry on top to have this to look forward to.
We’re arriving over mid-week and the first few days is about preparing for the game and it’s been laid down to us to go and try and win so we’re bringing as strong a panel as we can.
“We’re down a few guys with the intermediate and senior champions from this weekend but still have upwards of 30 guys going over to go and prepare to try and win this game. After that we’ll be able to go and enjoy ourselves.”
Kilkenny great Henry Shefflin has made a successful start to his management career after guiding his club Ballyhale Shamrocks to a senior Kilkenny crown in his first year in charge.
Buckley shared a dressing room with Shefflin in his final years before retiring from Kilkenny, and he identified strong management qualities in his teammate during those final stages of his playing career.
Ballyhale Shamrocks manager Henry Shefflin.
Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
“I was lucky enough to play with Henry in the last few years of his county career and I suppose he had, me being one of the younger players, had that natural leadership.
He was nearly a player-manager as such at times. He’s obviously brought that and Ballyhale have benefited from it. He’s obviously one of the locals out there in Ballyhale and he’s played with a lot of the players.
“Some of the younger lads who’ve boosted that Ballyhale team this year will obviously have a serious amount of respect for him. I think it was the natural next step for him. I’ve no doubt he’ll continue the early success that he’s had.
“He obviously has respect locally more than anywhere else, and that’s important when you’re a manager of a club team. He’s knitted together 30 guys there and that’s one of the primary responsibilities of a club manager. They reap the rewards because of it.”
Cillian Buckley was speaking at the the Australian Embassy in Dublin to mark the departure of the Kilkenny and Galway teams, who fly to Australia to take part in a match for the Wild Geese Trophy as part of the Sydney Irish Fest on 10/11 November.
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