Ulster can learn from Kilkenny Cats: Dinny Cahill
Antrim manager Dinny Cahill believes that Ulster teams will see further evidence of just how far they have to go before they are able to be bracketed along with the elite when All Ireland champions Kilkenny oppose Cork in the first of this year’s semi-finals on Sunday.
The Saffrons’ championship voyage was ended by Cork in the quarter-finals in a match in which the Leesiders were singularly unimpressive.
But Cahill, far from deriving false comfort from his team’s commendable efforts on that occasion, insists that it will be a different Cork side that will face the machine-like Kilkenny this weekend.
“This match will underline to the rest of the hurling world just what level it is necessary to reach to get into the last four of the All Ireland,” stresses Cahill. “You look at Kilkenny and you see the way they have dominated the All Ireland series for the past four years. They look invincible and then you have to consider that Cork beat Tipperary by ten points in the Munster championship.”
While his own team’s courage and commitment were never in question against Cork, Cahill acknowledges that only by performing to a consistent level can teams currently outside the elite sector hope to gain entrance.
“I think it was a big step forward to allow Antrim and Galway into the Leinster Championship from last year and we ourselves have certainly benefited from that. But we know for certain that it takes an awful lot of hard work to be able to live with the top sides. Everyone is saying that Kilkenny are certainties for the All Ireland title again and it’s very hard to argue with that,” adds Cahill.
The Cats may be without James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick but they have enough power up front to trouble a Cork defence that looked shaky on occasions against Antrim.
With Henry Shefflin, Richie Power and Eddie Brennan on fire, the Cats front line will be difficult to contain although Cahill makes the point that in Ronan Curran, John Gardiner, the brothers Jerry and Ben O’Connor and Tom Kenny, Cork have a raft of experienced players who will be up for the challenge.
“Even so, Cork themselves are aware that they will need to show a big improvement if they are to have any chance of winning. I would urge all sides with aspirations of making it into the top tier to study Sunday’s game and learn from it,” says Cahill.
Kilkenny manager Brian Cody has already made it clear that his team regard Cork as a big obstacle to their title hopes but the commitment, pace and power that his own side have been showing of late suggests that they will gain entry to yet another All Ireland final — something that won’t surprise Cahill in the least.
“Waterford and Tipperary are in the other semi-final so the ingredients are there for a good final,” predicts the Antrim boss.