A new era for Kilkenny hurling begins in Callan on Sunday afternoon.
Derek Lyng will take charge of the senior team for the first time when his side face Offaly in the opening round of the Walsh Cup in John Locke Park (Live on KCLR at 2pm).
The Emeralds clubman was appointed to the post in August following Brian Cody’s decision to retire after 24 years in the role.
While there is always a sizeable amount of anticipation from the county’s supporters for the start of a new season, 2023 will bring with an extra curiosity as Lyng moves from the U20 team to the senior ranks.
In an exclusive interview with KCLR, the 6-time All-Ireland winning player spoke about the process of replacing 11-time All-Ireland winning boss Brian Cody, the need to stamp his own identity on the Leinster champions, and his goals for 2023.
You can hear the full interview at 4pm on Saturday, but before then, here’s what he had to say about how he became the new man at the helm.
He began: “It has been a long wait for myself. It’s been a really enjoyable period though.
“You have to do a lot of hard work in the meantime from when you get the job, but it’s the games that are the most important thing and we’ll be training well during the week and preparing for the weekend for the majority of the year.
“We want to put in good performances and see some of the players in the Walsh Cup and to test the panel.”
A crucial player throughout the 2000s as Kilkenny dominated the sport, Lyng revealed how he took over the reins from his former manager Cody.
“The initial contact comes from the County Board and then you have a few conversations with them. In terms of the decision-making, you have to have the conversations with your family and also look at the work situation as well.
“It moved pretty quick, it’s a massive honour and opportunity, and I was delighted to accept it.”
He also admitted that it wasn’t an offer that he accepted immediately for different reasons.
“There’s a lot to consider when you get offered the role. Having said that, opportunities like this don’t come around too often.
“Once I knew I could manage it from home and with work, I was able to make the decision. I have a great backroom team and great support which is important. I’m just really looking forward to the challenge.”
The two-time All-Star winner explained how he felt once he realised he had been appointed.
“It was a great feeling when I knew I had the job. It’s hard to describe it.
“For myself, my family and my club it’s a tremendous honour. It’s moved well for me and I’m very fortunate in that regard.
“I’ve enjoyed all the years that I’ve been involved in it to date and I’m excited about what the future holds.”
He also spoke about the immediate games coming up prior to the league as Kilkenny host Offaly on Sunday before completing their Walsh Cup group stage fixtures away to neighbours Laois and Wexford.
“At this stage we have seven or eight weeks of training put in. We have done a lot of fitness up to this point, but we’ve implemented more hurling into it since after Christmas. It’s gone very well so far.
“We want to be competitive in all of the games that we are playing in. It’s an opportunity for fellas that may have in and amongst the panel over the last few years.
“The way I see it, every time you put on a Kilkenny jersey it’s an opportunity. The effort has to be there, and the attitude has to be right.
“We’re looking forward to the season and we’re looking forward to the first game against Offaly. Hopefully we’ll see some new faces.
“It’s about getting a bit of hurling into everyone in January. Anyone that is available to us and isn’t injured will get some game time and that means that we’re all looking forward to getting back into it and playing games again.”
You can hear the full interview with Derek Lyng this Saturday at 4pm on KCLR before we bring you live coverage of his first game in charge against Offaly from 2pm on Sunday.
If you can’t get to the game, KCLR is the only place where you can hear full live commentaries of all of Kilkenny’s Walsh Cup, Allianz National Hurling League, Leinster championship and All-Ireland series games in 2023.