Brian Cody has announced his retirement as Kilkenny senior hurling manager, drawing to a close one of the most incredible reigns in the history of the GAA, let alone the sports world as a whole.
The news was confirmed on Saturday afternoon, coming just days after Kilkenny’s dramatic two-point defeat at the hands of Limerick in the 2022 All-Ireland senior hurling championship decider. It was the third straight final defeat for Kilkenny with Tipperary getting the upper hand in 2016 and 2019.
Cody, who turned 68 earlier this month, was appointed to the role in 1998 and in the years since has led the Cats to 17 All-Ireland finals, winning 11.
Speculation had been rife in the aftermath of Sunday’s All-Ireland final and seemed to gather a lot of steam across Tuesday and Wednesday in GAA circles with some suggestions that a statement would be made earlier this week.
Kilkenny GAA are now in search of a new senior hurling manager for the first time this century, with a whole host of high-profile names already being linked with the top job in the county.
Whoever fills the James Stephens man’s position will be following an unparalleled serial winner.
His first All-Ireland title came in 2000 with a comfortable defeat of Offaly following a one-point defeat in the decider to Cork in the previous year during his maiden season at the helm.
The first back-to-back successes under the former Kilkenny captain came in 2002 and 2003 with wins against Cork and Clare respectively.
The rise of Kilkenny as the dominant force that they would come to be began in 2006 as they halted Cork’s three-in-a-row charge and sealed the first of their historic four consecutive All-Ireland victories in the process.
Wins against Limerick and Waterford were followed up by a hard-fought defeat of Tipperary in 2009.
The lowest point of his tenure arguably came in 2010 as Liam Sheedy and his Tipp charges famously stopped the ‘Drive for Five’ as an unprecedented five All-Ireland championships in-a-row came and went in the Croke Park rain.
Testament to Cody’s longevity and ability to inspire and rejuvenate, Kilkenny won back their crown in 2011 against the Premier before defending it with a replayed victory over Galway the year after.
They brought the Liam MacCarthy Cup back to Noreside in 2014 after an underwhelming campaign in 2013 and once again backed up that success with what would prove to be his last championship in 2015.
2016 and 2019 defeats to old rivals Tipperary in the showpiece event bookended early exits in 2017 and 2018 before they went on to win three Leinster championships in the final three years under the record-breaking manager.
There was to be no fairytale ending for the great man however, as they were narrowly defeated by the Treaty In Sunday’s epic final despite a heroic effort.
What lies ahead for Brian Cody and the Kilkenny senior hurling team remains to be seen, but there is no denying the landscape of the sport has been changed immeasurably upon his departure.