Ex-Kilkenny hurler Aidan Fogarty recalls the early days of Brian Cody, having the craic with him, the changing of the mantra and that ruthlessness.
BY GERARD BROWNE
On Saturday afternoon, Brian Cody will emerge on the touchline for his 22nd championship season as Kilkenny manager.
The Cats take on Dublin in the Leinster semi-final in Croke Park. Hurling has evolved so much over that time and so too has the James Stephens club man.
One person who has seen all the different stages of Brian Cody’s management style is Aidan Fogarty.
The man nicknamed “Taggy” played in the black and amber from 2003-2014.
When he first joined the panel, Cody was quite laid back, and Fogarty recalls a team bonding session to highlight this.
“In 2003 before the All-Ireland semi-final, we did a paintball trip around Bennettsbridge,” says Fogarty.
“ We had a few cans in the shed where the paintball gear was and Brian had a few cans too.
“He’d be chatting away and having the banter with the players. He was more involved with the players.”
It was after a defeat to Galway in the 2005 All-Ireland semi-final, the ex-corner forward could sense that Cody “got too close to the players and he got too soft”.
“After that, he made a bridge between management and players where he would only talk to us on management levels and only say the bare essentials,” Fogarty adds.
A new era began for Kilkenny hurling. Older players were cut adrift and players like Jackie Tyrell, James “Cha” Fitzpatrick and Richie Power started to take over.
“The whole mantra had changed and he became ruthless. There was a stage where he dropped 13 players, by naming them off the panel with the option of coming back.
“He dropped four players completely and asked everybody else to come back in,” he comments.
“One or two didn’t come back because they felt in their right, they shouldn’t have been dropped in the first place,” Fogarty continues.
Kilkenny would dominate for the next ten years, winning eight of the All-Irelands on offer.
The 2006-2009 team is regarded by many as the greatest ever to play the game, and the Emeralds man acknowledges Cody was right to distance himself from the players.
“Look he is only there to make tough decisions and if everybody is friends with you, then you’re not doing your job properly.”
“The proof is in the pudding, he is one of the top GAA managers of all time. He never let his guard down.”
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