Brian Cody has been at pains to de-mystify the role of Kilkenny manager since he took the job in 1998. He always passes up the chance to imply that his sideline genius played any part in Kilkenny's success.
The outside world is disbelieving. KK's dominance in the Cody era has been so outsized, so unlike anything seen before, that outsiders believe there must be some alchemy involved. Some special sauce is in play.
Always inscrutable, Cody insists not. All anyone can make out from Cody's philosophy is that (a.) "we don't do tactics" and (b.) "hurling is hurling."
As long as you have an abundance of genuineness with a dollop of savage honesty, then you won't go too far wrong.
The chasing pack have long searched in vain for any quick fix. (Whether the new All-Ireland champions Tipperary belong anymore to "a chasing pack" is doubtful at the time of writing.)
Michael Rice, midfielder from the mid-noughties up to last year, and David Herity, starting goalkeeper during the early part of this decade and a stalwart of the Kilkenny football scene, spoke on Off the Ball tonight about their inter-county careers.
The pair gave an interesting insight into Cody's seemingly laissez faire managerial style. Cody emerges from the portrait as a gruff, vaguely distant figure who believed that players needed to be trusted rather than pre-programmed.
Herity recalled an incident from the 2012 All-Ireland series, a season which posed an unusual number of questions for Kilkenny. Galway's tactic of loading their own half-back line with bodies proved unbelievably successful against Cody's team in the Leinster Final.
Halfway through the All-Ireland final, the ploy appeared to be working again.
Kilkenny seemed to get to grips with it in the second half, their defenders holding their positions and taking advantage of the depleted numbers in the Galway forward line. After holding a five point lead at the break, Galway only scored 1-2 in the second half and needed a contentious last-minute free to force a replay.
Herity used an example from the 2012 All-Ireland final(s) to give us a picture of Cody's modus operandi.
Sometimes, he gave you solutions and absolutely no answers. Sometimes, you'd leave a meeting and you'd be like "what do we do?"
We'd ask questions to him. We'd say "Right, do we man-mark against Galway or do we mark space?"
And he'd go, "yeah, I think ye should."
And then you leave the meeting and you're going, "what should we do?"
Sometimes, as well, I find if you have a manager or coach and they're giving you every single ounce of instruction, when you go over the white line, you're constantly looking to the sideline. Grow a pair, like and work your way into the match.
Even that '12 final that Henry ended up centre forward. Brian didn't put him centre forward. He (Henry) just knew the game was going against Kilkenny and he put himself out there. But he (Cody) left the dressing room open in such a way that players could breathe and grow and become leaders and be able to drive things on themselves and become independent.
And Herity, though no longer part of the setup, continues to insist that Kilkenny don't in fact do tactics. Cody's puck-out strategy consisted of telling his goalkeeper to lash the ball at the KK half-forward line.
Any slight modifications and intricacies withing this overarching strategy emerged, not from a managerial diktat, but from lads talking among themselves.
I know the whole thing is Kilkenny don't do tactics. There's no point flogging a dead horse. They don't (do tactics). When it came to the puckouts, Brian kept it very simple. "If you're going short, keep it 120 yards short!"
Herity cited an instance where he used a different cultech hurl for the purposes of driving a ball over Padraic Maher's head in 2011.
Kilkenny figured that Maher, though brilliant bursting forward, wasn't as hot when running backward. When Ger Gilroy suggested that such a strategy amounted to "tactics", Herity insisted that it wasn't a gameplan instituted by the management and worked out in video analysis ("there was none of that at all").
"That was just a case of someone might have mentioned that Padraic Maher's not the best at heading back towards his own line. That was just the players talking. There was no video analysis at all. So, it was just a matter where I went "right, I might get one of these hurls and hit it as far as I can."
Listen to the discussion below: