Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Joe Kernan: Kilkenny set up final to have us purring

When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. We are all familiar with this sporting adage which is applicable at various levels.

But rarely has it had such resonance as last Sunday in relation to the Kilkenny v Tipperary All Ireland hurling championship semi-final.

It had been thought that the 10-point hammering which the Cats had sustained at the hands of Galway had weakened their resolve, diluted their ambition and posed major question marks over the future of several players.

But all doubts about Kilkenny’s psyche and character were clinically removed when they dismantled Tipperary’s ambitions of landing what would have been a second All Ireland crown in three years.

Kilkenny were just awesome

in the second-half, dispelling the notion that there are any tired legs in their camp and rubbishing the suggestion that their appetite is open to question.

It quickly became abundantly clear that the passage of time has done nothing to trim the commitment or impinge on the hunger of Brian Cody’s players who showed a war-like application in putting Tipperary firmly in their place. Kilkenny are as tough as old boots and every bit as durable.

They showed that it is certainly the old dog for the hard road by the relentless manner in which they visibly crushed Tipperary’s spirit and left them sagging on the ropes.

Tipp were clearly exhausted by their efforts to stay the pace with a driven, ravenous team that allowed their hurling to do all their talking on the day.

I am a self-confessed admirer of Brian Cody and if anything he went up further in my estimation on Sunday.

When I observed him spitting on his hands at one stage in the second-half, I knew he was clearly relishing what he was observing taking place out on the park.

By then it was clear that Kilkenny were in the driving seat and well on their way to a renewal of their intoxicating rivalry with Galway in the All Ireland final at Croke Park next month.

I have been known in the past to part with my All Ireland hurling final ticket. There is absolutely no chance of that happening this year as I will cherish my ringside seat at what will be a phenomenal contest.

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