They’ve lost only one game in Leinster in the 14 years since Cody took charge (to Wexford, in 2004) and the six times they’ve played Dublin during that time they’ve won by margins ranging from six to 26 points.
So, if the question of how to beat them is one Dublin manager Anthony Daly and most other hurling managers are sick to death of hearing that’s understandable – although Daly still gives it a go.
It’s the third successive year they’ve met in the championship, and last year’s clash was viewed by many as Dublin’s best chance. They’d just beaten Kilkenny in the league final, after all, yet still ended up losing 4-17 to 1-15.
“I suppose when we met them the first time, in 2009, we had just beaten Wexford, and it was a big breakthrough,” says Daly, “and Kilkenny seemed awesomely strong at the time. People have looked at the Kilkenny style that has been absolutely dominating hurling over the last few years and have tried to take on some aspects, but not everyone is equipped to play that style and that’s the mistake some teams have made. I wouldn’t overstate it.
“We’d like to think we have grown up a bit and fellas have matured and won a league now and played in two Leinster finals and an All-Ireland semi-final so they’ve a fair bit of big day experience.”
Dublin should have beaten Kilkenny in this year’s league, too – losing the goal-fest in Nowlan Park 5-16 to 6-12, but winning many of the individual battles on the day, and while Daly doesn’t underestimate the importance of that, Dublin were effectively in a better position going into last year’s Leinster final.
“Maybe we got caught up in the talk a little bit. Everyone was talking about a backlash and maybe that played inside in fellas’ heads. I could tell you this time last year we were deliberately avoiding that kind of talk, but sometimes it seeps into them . . fellas at work, fellas at school, fellas on Twitter, fellas on feckin’ everything now, that they’re looking at and reading, ‘ah there’ll be a backlash!’
“Well there’s no backlash this year. They put us in our place last year, they won the All-Ireland, they’ve come out since and walloped everyone in the National League. So!”
So, how do Dublin go about beating Kilkenny on Saturday?
“There’s no point in going down if you don’t believe you can beat them! We’re actually not talking about beating them at all, we’re talking about playing our best. Being the best that we can be, that’s what we’re focusing on.”