Kilkenny bid to end 'famine' in U-21 final with Limerick

Jerome O'Connell

Reporter:

Jerome O'Connell

Email:

joconnell@limerickleader.ie

Kilkenny bid to end 'famine' in U-21 final with Limerick

Kilkenny U-21 manager Eddie Brennan with the James Nowlan Cup

“IT’S a famine,” insists Kilkenny U-21 hurling manager Eddie Brennan.

The eight time All Ireland SHC winner pointing out that Kilkenny’s wait for a title is nine years.

”It’s a famine at this grade. 2008 was the last title and before this year even the last Leinster win was five years,” outlined Brennan this Wednesday at a media event hosted by U-21 sponsors Bord Gais Energy.

“The likes of Wexford and Dublin are now accustomed to beating Kilkenny at U-21 level and that has a knockout affect for senior level. At this grade we just haven’t being cutting it,” said the former Limerick based guard.

“Our progress rate from U-21 to senior has not being high but I do see potential in this group of lads.”

Brennan is in his second year as Kilkenny U-21 manager.

“I won a ‘21 back in 1999 when we beat a fancied Galway in the final. That’s still a special medal for me because that was the first grade I played for Kilkenny and the first time I wore the Kilkenny jersey,” recalled the four time All Star.

Brennan’s first year as U-21 manager ended with defeat to Westmeath but they regrouped this season and beat Dublin, Westmeath and Wexford to claim a 25th provincial U-21 title.

“We are delighted with our year so far. Our lads were focused early because we had the Leinster champions (Dublin) coming to Nowlan Park in the first game. We kicked-on then and had a right tough game with Westmeath. That had us battle-hardened for the Leinster final and things went really well on the night,” outlined Brennan.

The former pacy corner forward said that his U-21 side have benefited from the unusual early exit for Brian Cody’s senior side.

”We have been the beneficiaries because with the seniors out it allows us to work as a group and that helps to build spirit in a camp and time together builds a bond. The U-21 grade can be tricky because you can’t flog the lads with training and have to keep in conversation with college managers and clubs and other county managers,” said Brennan.

Kilkenny’s Leinster final win was back on July 5 and their manager “would ideally” prefer more competitive action ahead of Saturday’s final.

”Look our semi final was a mis-match. We sat back and watched the second semi final and Galway asked all questions and Limerick responded. We have had good training and some challenge matches so we won’t have any excuses from that point of view. I don’t believe in offering excuses.”

That semi final wasn’t the first time Brennan saw Limerick this season and has tried to rally the Kilkenny support to match the ‘Green Army’.

“Limerick really have a 16th man with the supporters. When the chips are down they really get behind the team and we are mindful of that,” said the Kilkenny manager.