Buckley delighted that Cody remains in charge of Kilkenny
By Eoghan Tuohey
For PwC All-Star nominee and Kilkenny's 2018 captain Cillian Buckley the year is still a case of what might have been.
Despite the excellent start made to the campaign, with an Allianz League final win, Kilkenny exited the Championship at the quarter-final stage.
“From being so close, I suppose, three weeks prior, to being out of the Championship in the middle of July was a fall from grace," Buckley reflects on the Leinster Final replay and All Ireland quarter-final losses.
The talismanic centre-back was at the Australian embassy in Dublin today, to help launch the Wild Geese Trophy matchwhich sees 2017 All-Ireland champions Galway take on the 2018 Allianz League winners, Kilkenny in Sydney on November 11.
The game is one of the prime events being held in the city as part of the Bulmers’ Sydney Irish Festival this year.
Despite the most successful county to ever play the game exiting the Championship before the semi-final stage for two years in a row now, Buckley remains positive. "Looking back on it, seeing Galway and Limerick contest the All-Ireland, they were the two teams having beaten us, we were so close to them," Buckley says. "Those two teams, we have to take some bit of confidence and solace from that.
“Obviously you want to go straight through, you want to win the Leinster Championship first of all. It does make the route to the All-Ireland tougher, especially this year when we had week on week, round robin fixtures in the Championship and then go into another three-week block of games, it was tough.
"It was far from the sole reason we lost the game, Limerick just blitzed us in the last ten minutes. But it was tough and it probably did take its toll on us on the day.”
Buckley, though, is delighted with the re-appointment of Brian Cody for a 21st term. "We're delighted," Buckley admits. "We weren't far off this year in that Galway and Limerick were the two teams that ended up in the All-Ireland. We're delighted that Brian is back to take it on again and more of the same."
With regard to the Sydney trip, the Dicksboro club-man confirmed that the game would signal the beginning of the 2019 season in earnest, and that preparations for the match, even without some key players, such as those from Ballyhale and Graigue-Ballycallan, would matter. “We're arriving over mid-week and the first few days is about preparing for the game and it's been laid down to us to go to try to win so we're bringing as strong a panel as we can.
"We're down a few guys with the Intermediate and Senior Championships from this weekend, but still have upwards of 30 guys going over to go to prepare to try and win this game. After that we'll be able to go and enjoy ourselves."
Buckley is rapidly becoming one of the most recognisable and most senior figures in this current Kilkenny set up. He was asked if this has altered his role or preparations in any way? “Yeah, look, it’s something you keep in the back of your mind, as there’s four or five lads making their Championship debut, you think back of when you were making yours and the bit of extra nerves that come with it and it just means a chat with a guy before a game, a few words with a guy at half-time.
"If it’s things like that, look, they’re the small things on the day, but, a few of the boys took to it fairly well, and now they’re just part of that bunch of experienced guys and it’s up to them to lead the way and show that experience that they’ve gathered for next year."