Kilkenny ripped up the form guide to book their place in the All-Ireland semi final with a 2-27 to 3-18 win over Cork in Croke Park last Sunday.
Despite Pat Horgan’s incredible display in which he notched 3-10 for the Rebels, the Cats eventually cruised to victory to secure a spot in the last four for the first time since 2016 when they were beaten by Tipperary in the final.
For Brian Cody, the three-year gap is almost famine after securing eight All-Ireland titles in 10 years between 2006 and 2015.
Speaking in the wake of the Cork victory, Cody referred to the challenge that lays ahead in the form of John Kiely’s all-conquering Limerick side.
“Ah yeah, from the frying pan into the fire job.”
Limerick defeated Kilkenny on route to capturing a first All-Ireland title in 45 years last Summer.
That win over the Cats was their first over the Leinster side in the same time frame during the championship.
The All-Ireland victory last August positioned them at the summit of hurling and Cody says they are still there after adding League and Munster honours in the intervening months.
“We’re into the semi-final and we’re delighted to be there. But we are acutely aware that we are playing the best team in the country.
“They were the best team in the country last year because they won the All-Ireland and there the best team in the country even more so this year because they followed it up winning the league (and Munster).”
Ever the master of mind games, Cody will be keen to talk up the opposition with Limerick favourites to advance to the August 18 decider.
However, Kilkenny showed their undoubted class against Cork with a great array of standout performers in Croker.
TJ Reid, who is arguably the best hurler in the country, was kept scoreless from play, yet the Cats still ran out six-point winners with Richie Hogan and Colin Fennelly rolling back the years in the inside forward line.
Limerick’s powerhouse performance against Tipperary in the Munster Final will position them as odds on to secure a second consecutive All-Ireland final appearance for the first time since the early 1970’s when they faced Kilkenny in back-back-back finals.
Speaking about that performance against Liam Sheedy’s outfit in the Munster Final, Cody outlined his thoughts ahead of the upcoming game.
“Their form the last day was unbelievable and I think they’re everyone’s favourites to come out on top not only the next day but for eventual honours.”
The dominant nature of Limerick’s performances since Kiely’s appointment has drawn comparisons to that of Kilkenny’s in the noughties where Cody’s side reigned so comprehensively over the nation.
With the prospect of Kiely and Cody matching up in Croke Park, the Kilkenny boss is as excited as the public.
“But that’s a terrific challenge for us to be facing.”