Brian Cody comes out of retirement for just one night as stars line up for a benefit game

Legendary Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody shocked the hurling world when he returned from his recent retirement to manage a team in Cork colors last night.

But it was only a short return and for a great cause.

24-year-old Cats boss and former Wexford All-Ireland winner Liam Griffin both returned to the sidelines to lead two teams in the annual Hurling for Cancer Research charity game in Newbridge.

After an enforced two-year hiatus, the annual game, organized by two equally legendary figures in Irish horse racing, showcased a galaxy of stars from the world of sport and entertainment and drew huge crowds.

Johnny ‘Smacks’ by The two Johnnys podcast fame was one of the few non-intercounty players on Davy Russell’s Best (managed by Cody) and proved that he actually “could have been county” with some impressive results.

Also starring for Russell’s team were top jockey Jamie Codd, Cork Camogie star Ashling Thompson and Wexford greats Lee Chin and Matthew O’Hanlon, who deigned to don “blood and bandages” for the worthy occasion.

Joining Thompson in midfield for ‘Bolger’s Stars’ (managed by Griffin) was her boyfriend Darragh O’Donovan, one of several of Limerick’s current hurling gods to attend.

The organizers have the new GAA calendar to thank for this dream line-up as it was the first time the charity match had been held after the All Ireland Hurling final.

Jockeys Mark Enright, Sean Flanagan and Cian Quirke shed their silks to fight some ash, and real horse racers like Rachael Blackmore, Nina Carberry and David Mullins donned white coats to act as referees, although some of their steward’s decisions were worthy. Inquiry.

Paul McGrath and Sonia O’Sullivan were among other superstars who wisely opted for a non-gaming involvement.

RTÉ regulars Ger Canning and Michael Duignan provided the commentary – and there was not one man but two men in the middle as it was co-directed by Cork’s Jimmy Barry-Murphy and Galway’s Cyril Farrell.

Their populist “let it go, ref” style – there was no free play for the entire 60 minutes – certainly appealed to Cody, who was notoriously sparing with the whistle while referencing Kilkenny’s brutal internal training games.

Jackie ‘No Socks’ Tyrrell must have had flashbacks in the Bolger’s Stars defense after being flattened by multiple rugby tackles.

There was generally no coverage, making for a busy night for former All-Star goalies Damien Fitzhenry (Wexford) and Brendan Cummins (Tipperary).

Griffin returned to the future by introducing Larry ‘Brother’ O’Gorman from his 1996 heroes who reached a pivotal point in the late stages.

He also got a bit of genius from Richie Hogan early on, when his reverse hand pass without looking behind the back set up former Republic of Ireland footballer Stephen Hunt for a spectacular goal.

Bolger’s Stars led at halftime. But Russell’s Best fought back, only to be outscored by a point in a 17-goal thriller – but nobody really held points.
The real winner was the charity, which had already raised €1.2m from eight previous games, and the army of fans who went on to have their Hurleys autographed by their real-life superheroes. Brian Cody comes out of retirement for just one night as stars line up for a benefit game

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