AFTER their surprise loss to Galway in the Leinster final earlier this month, Kilkenny supporters seemed to have somewhat lost hope in their side.
However, after their win over Limerick last Sunday in the All-Ireland quarter-final in Thurles, another unconvincing performance still hasn’t instilled much confidence in supporters of the Cats.
Midfielder Michael Fennelly admitted to the Irish Independent that their recent decision to end their open-door training sessions at Nowlan Park was a contributing factor to Sunday’s victory, adding that it was indeed a distraction in the past.
“It was just refocusing the heads,” Fennelly said. “Sometimes you can’t have crowds at training, it’s a distraction. We just got back down to business.”
“We did a few sessions behind closed doors but it was nothing different for us than usual. We just had to get some business done.”
Fennelly also stated that their tough encounter with John Allen’s Treaty side should benefit the Kilkenny side, in the lead-up to their semi-final date with 2011 defeated finalists, Tipperary on August 19 in Croke Park.
“We needed a big game. Limerick are a good team, they are up and coming and they have a lot of young lads there 19, 20 and 21. We knew from the last day that they got some great points against Clare (in the qualifiers). It was great to get a hard game.”
The midfielder, who made his first championship start of the year last Sunday following his return from an ankle injury suffered in the league final to Cork back in May, felt that their first-half performance last Sunday was a wake-up call to his team-mates.
“At half-time, you could have said we were facing into our last 35 minutes of the season,” he continued. “So we were glad to get through it.”
“We said to lads if they ran out of diesel, put your hand up and come off. Our attitude was to go out and empty the tank, and that’s what lads did.”
The current Hurler of the Year suffered a frustrating last 12 weeks having being reduced to the sidelines with ligament damage to his ankle, but knows that his side’s rematch with Tipp is undoubtedly a massive encounter.
“Obviously we lost in 2010 and we wanted to prove a point last year. But maybe we have another point to prove – we want to show that we can beat Tipperary two years in a row. They’ll be doing the same – they’ll want to get back at us,” Fennelly concluded.