Like the rest of us, hurlers chasing All-Ireland success are walking on thin ice as they have to put at least as much planning into dodging a deadly Covid as they do into any big match preparation.
Thankfully Cody’s Cats had a clean sheet as they went into battle for a third consecutive Bob O’Keeffe Cup but, unfortunately, the Dubs got the kind of pre-match blow that team managers must dread.
The Sky Blues had four squad members in isolation and hence enforced team shuffling was their lot.
In sporting warfare there is no room for sympathy and so Kilkenny set about its task with its usual high spirits.
Despite the promptings of loyal fans in an 18,000 crowd, the opening half didn’t add to the heat of a blazing sun but the game did go to be an interesting and oft exciting Scrap Saturday.
CATS KICKED UP A STORM
It was 12 points to 9 in Kilkenny’s favour at the break but while the Cats may not have put the wind up the Dubs in half one, they certainly kicked up a storm in half two as the tempo was raised.
And so to Cody’s copy book.
His scribbles should most definitely have included an honours performance by towering O’Loughlin Gaels defender Huw Lawlor who gave the display of his young hurling career.
His defending was awesome, commanding and superbly intelligent and his Man of the Match award was fully deserved.
Perhaps what crowned a terrific second half for Kilkenny was the excellent use of subs as fresh bodies with hungry ambitions spurred the Noreside machine to full throttle.
Particularly pleasing was the wonderful work of Cillian Buckley who made an instant impression and was a breath of fresh air.
The latter played his part in turning the screw that strengthened his team’s grip on the game as the wheels on the Molly Malone wheelbarrow had fallen off well before the finish.
MASTER CLASS IN PENALTY TAKING
Highlights of a game that was rescued by a magnificent Kilkenny performance in act two included a master class in penalty taking by TJ Reid and a display of the kind of spirit that has led to so many successes under Brian Cody over the years.
But one suspects that goals, or rather the lack of them, will be top of the agenda as Kilkenny prepares for the semi-final of the MacCarthy Cup.
Had the game been an experimental one where points did not count, it could so easily have ended in a scoreless draw.
Yes, both defences were solid but that there was a distinct lack of goal chances created will rankle with both team bosses, Dublin as it knocks on the back door and Kilkenny as it deservedly avoided a not so picturesque route to the Holy Grail.
Positive for Kilkenny is that it has the proven talent to deliver goals so maybe the key could be to provide a better service for the marksmen.
The latter is a mere view from the stands but it just may be a priority for Cody and his management team as Kilkenny prepare to jump the penultimate hurdle before the big one.