For the first time in his Kilkenny career, Eoin Cody has had to take part in Kilkenny pre-season training.
Successive long, trophy-laden winters have meant that, thanks to Ballyhale Shamrocks, he was always otherwise engaged while his fellow Kilkenny panellists were in the middle of it.
But defeat to O’Loughlin Gaels in last month’s county final has freed him up.
It’s tough going but he’s enjoying it.
“It’s the first time since I’ve been hurling senior that I’ve had the unfortunate honour of having a place in the Kilkenny pre-season,” Cody laughs.
He’s gobbling it up.
“Three weeks into it now. So far, it’s been tough enough.
“I remember during Covid, we were given our own bits of running to do by our S and C coach and that was tough so I’d imagine when we’re all together, it might be even tougher.
He’ll be ready.
Speaking in his role as an AIB ambassador for the Goal mile, Cody says the Kilkenny panel had something of a running test among themselves last weekend.
He was away in Cheltenham at Richie Reid’s stag but wasn’t surprised when the reports coming back told him that his club-mate Adrian Mullen was the winner.
“Cillian Buckley wasn’t too far behind.
“Adrian is a beast when it comes to that thing, he’d be up there with the fittest of all the county players in the whole of Ireland.”
You suspect Cody would have pushed him. More of a typical corner forward when he first came onto the county panel back in 2020, in terms of his build, Cody is now as strong an athlete as you’ll find.
“I knew I had to (bulk up.)
“I completely bought into everything our S and C coach Mick Comerford did.
“He was doing a lot of work with TJ and the lads so I met up with him as much as I could.
“I wasn’t too experienced at it starting off, so we did do one-on-ones to get the right methods and so on because I wasn’t in the habit of it.
“It was the Covid period when I was starting off, so that gave me a great chance to get work done.”
“I started enjoying it then.
“Playing against the lads that are out there now, there’s giants on some of them teams and even in Kilkenny training, you have to be at such a high level even just to compete there.”
“At the same time, you can’t let the gym work take over from the skills. You have to keep the touch sharp too because without that, you’re at nothing,” he adds.Cody’s father Larry collected his PwC All-Star award last Friday night.
The Ballyhale wound is still raw, it will take some time, but he knows they should be proud.
They were down five certain starters this year, in his brother Brian, Joe Cuddihy, Ronan Corcoran, Joey Holden and Darren Mullen, but still made it to the last puck of the Kilkenny final.
Yes they’re the most successful GAA club there’s ever been but that doesn’t make them immune to the struggles that come with rural-life. Emigration slashed their squad depth this year, something underlined by the fact that they didn’t bring on a sub in that Kilkenny county final.
“There are times when you are struggling.
“We worked extra hard this year, seeing as we were missing four or five key members of our team.
“We hadn’t gone well in the League. Probably the worst League campaign we’ve had. That win over Dicksboro in Championship really drove us on.
“They are a great up and coming team. They’ll be there the next few years as well.
“But during the summer, when some of us are with the county and others are gone to America or travelling, they could be out there training with just three hurlers.
“Say when there could be a junior game on where they only have the bare-fifteen, maybe even 14. Two or three senior lads would be training on their own. We’ve had that over the last few years.
“It’s a credit to them to do that.”
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