BRIAN CODY’S FRUSTRATION at Richie Hogan’s first-half red card was evident in his post-match press conference, but he was keen not to use it as an excuse for Kilkenny’s heavy loss to Tipperary.
It was the highest margin of victory in an All-Ireland final since the Cats dismissed Waterford by 23 points in the 2008 decider, while it was Kilkenny’s heaviest ever defeat under Cody.
Hogan’s red card shortly before the interval arrived at a stage when Tipperary were a point in front. The four-time All-Star caught Cathal Barrett on the chin with an elbow under the Hogan Stand and after some consultation with his fellow officials, James Owens produced red.
“There’s a lot of ye here and I wonder what ye all think because nobody seems to know,” Cody said. “I was close to it. I was amazed.
“I am the manager of the Kilkenny hurling team…and I didn’t really know. I hadn’t a clue, to be honest. I saw he just turned and he went down but the only thing I will say is we won’t make any excuses for not winning the game.
“We were beaten well in the final score but it is a huge decision to make, to issue a red card. You would want to be very, very definite before you do a thing like that and certainly, it took the referee a long, long time to make up his mind and say ‘I wonder what that should be’.
“He consulted himself, he consulted his linesman and he consulted the player himself, went over to have a look at him. And I would say if he knew for certain what it was going to be he would have made his mind up straight away. But that’s what he did and what do you think?”
It was suggested to Cody that TV replays showed Hogan making contact with Barrett.
“He made contact so you are very, very definite,” he replied. “Fair play to you.”
By the 42nd minute, the Premier had three goals on the board and were five clear. There was no catching them from that point. The final winning margin was 14 points.
“It was a decisive factor, there’s no doubt about that,” said Cody.
“The first-half, obviously, was very very even. We played really well, I felt, and their goal was important from the point of view of the score at half-time and getting them very close again.
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“But I thought our hurling was very good and the sending-off was going to make it a huge ask obviously. The general opinion would be that for us to take 15 on 15 was going to be very difficult but to try and take them on with 14 players just proved to be a bridge too far, definitely. That’s as it turned out.
“It was a tough ask and that did give them the daylight and we kept it at that and we kept popping some scores but we needed a goal, which was going to be very difficult to get with an extra defender back there. But we defended magnificently.
“I thought some of our players were outstanding against serious odds and that’s the way it went. There wouldn’t have been a huge confidence outside the dressing-room in our team but the way they fought, the way they played, the way they defended I thought was excellent.”
Kilkenny delivered countless ball into the paw of Tipp’s spare defender Cathal Barrett, while Liam Sheedy’s side made good use of the spare man by working the ball through the lines with some neat stickwork.
“Well, I would say that the use of the ball in the first-half was superb, superb, when we had a player in every position. It became very difficult then in the second-half to find the men.
“You are talking about playing a very fine team and conditions not particularly conducive to finding everything you want to find in it. I don’t think it’s down anything in particular like that. We were beaten and we are not going to be going around making excuses.
“That’s life. I still believe that our players were superb,” he concluded defiantly.
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