Kilkenny claimed their 73rd Leinster Senior Hurling Championship title on Saturday night with a comfortable 1-25 to 0-19 defeat of Dublin in Croke Park.
The victory saw Kilkenny manager Brian Cody win his 17th provincial crown as manager of the Cats as his side eased into an All-Ireland semi-final.
Dublin were missing four players for the encounter, including two starters (Cian O’Callaghan and Ronan Hayes) due to Covid related issues and Cody admitted that their forced omission had an impact on Mattie Kenny’s men.
He said: “Dublin were disadvantaged today because they lost players due to Covid, there’s no doubt about that.
“The responsibility is on everyone, particularly people who play sport, to remain vigilant and even then, there are no guarantees.”
Cody highlighted the importance of Kilkenny’s efficiency in front of goal, something that was in direct contrast to Dublin.
“It was a huge battle, and it took us a long time to be comfortable in the game. We got points at important times throughout the game and eventually we got over the line,” said Cody.
The 11-time All-Ireland winning manager celebrated the return of 18,00 supporters for the provincial decider on Saturday.
“There was excitement and there was great noise throughout the game. It certainly adds to the occasion and that’s what it’s all about during nights like this.”
Despite last night’s success, Cody stressed that their semi-final opponent’s will pose a bigger challenge than anything that they have faced to date.
“There’s going to be a major step up in quality from now on. Anyone we face will provide an immense challenge, but I always believe we have a strong panel that can cope with anything thrown their way.”