Galway’s Andy Smith doesn’t think that Brian Cody’s absence will have any bearing on Sunday’s Allianz National Hurling League semi-final clash with Kilkenny.
Cody is recovering from pre-planned heart surgery with selector Martin Fogarty and team trainer Michael Dempsey taking over the reins in his stead.
Asked if he thought the fact that the driving force behind what is considered by some as the best hurling team ever would be detrimental to the All-Ireland champions hopes, Smith told RTÉ Sport: “Ah no. We wish him well in his recovery but on the day it’s the 30 players who are on the park.
"Each of those Kilkenny boys know their role, as do the Galway players. It’s down to the boys on the pitch on the day.”
"We know we can go toe-to-toe with Kilkenny"
The sides met three times last summer in a compelling series – a Leinster final won by Galway, a drawn All-Ireland final and the replayed decider, which went to the Cats – and Smith says they have taken lessons from those battles.
He said: “We’ve been there, we’ve done that, the Leinster final last year.
"We know we can go toe-to-toe with Kilkenny and battle with them, which is encouraging. We know we are capable of beating them but we have to bring a performance because if you don’t Kilkenny will wipe you off the field.
“It’s not easy to lose an All-Ireland, especially going to a replay, we were so close the first day.
"You learn a lot about yourself and as a collective. I suppose we just have to bring what we learned and bring it forward for this year and hopefully we can bring something else to the game on Sunday but this is only a stepping stone to the Championship.”
Sunday’s Semple Stadium fixture will be their second meeting this season with Anthony Cunningham’s men having edged the Leinster side on the opening day of the league.