Colin Fennelly relieved to be back winning with Kilkenny
WHETHER or not Kilkenny go on to reach back-to-back All-Ireland senior hurling finals, Colin Fennelly is sure that there will be no question marks over manager Brian Cody's future.
Mickey Harte may have left the Tyrone job after 18 years – and swiftly moved on to Louth – but Cody seems certain to extend his time in charge of the Cats into a 23rd season.
This month Kilkenny ended a four-season wait to be crowned Leinster champions, the longest gap since before Cody took over, having gone half a decade without in those intensely competitive years between 1993 and 1998.
"There's no vibe whatsoever [about Cody considering finishing up]," said Fennelly about the 66-year-old.
"I think it was a few years ago that people talked about it; I don't think they talk about it anymore, to be honest. There's no vibe whatsoever.
"He's there and he's boys coming in like DJ Carey, Martin Comerford, Micky Comerford coming in as a trainer and then the experience of James McGarry there, which is just huge for Brian Cody. With that experience and hunger, is there a need to change management?
"What Brian Cody has done for Kilkenny hurling has been immense and what he is doing is immense. There is no sign of him going away, we don't want him going away and there is so much opportunity.
"You see with Henry [Shefflin, at Ballyhale], Eddie Brennan [with Laois], David Herity [with Kildare], Michael Fennelly [with Offaly] all going into management roles and to see them there with Brian, or under Brian, is just fantastic to have that. I think Kilkenny are in a good place in that respect."
Yet the 31-year-old acknowledged the importance of winning a championship trophy again after becoming so accustomed to success under Cody:
"It was massive because I think it's four years since we actually won a Leinster, five since an All-Ireland. We had been so close over the last five years and as time goes on it keeps on going all of a shot and you could be another few years away from it. So if you let those chances slip by it could be another while before it happens.
"So it's very important from getting to the [Leinster] final last year and getting to the final this year to get a win this year was huge. I know we won the League last year, which was huge, but to get a Leinster back in our pocket was a good achievement for us and a good step going forward to the All-Ireland."
The Cats have come close, reaching last year's All-Ireland decider and the previous two provincial finals, but Fennelly pointed out that losing can become a habit just as much as winning:
"We have been there or thereabouts this year and last year and if you don't take that chance, that opportunity, after a while they can very easily go away.
"I noticed that with the club. You are there at the top, all of a sudden it's just gone and if you don't pick up that momentum and get that win, it will go away. And it doesn't come back easy.
"You see with Wexford, it was huge for them [winning Leinster last year] and all of a sudden they are out of the championship. It's just the way it goes. You just really need to take what you can and from losing last year it was massive follow-up this year to win a Leinster final."
Kilkenny face neighbours Waterford in the All-Ireland semi-final this Saturday evening, and Fennelly hopes the Cats' extra week off will stand to them:
"Yeah, I definitely find it's a huge advantage. I know with the club it was week after week and you'd really feel it. Whereas now with the county you have that two-week break.
"For players like me who didn't have a good game [in the Leinster Final] I can follow up with trying to get my form back in training."
Waterford be warned – Brian Cody's not leaving, and the Cats are back.