Kilkenny manager Brian Cody has copper-fastened a special place in the GAA history-books after guiding his side to a seventh All Ireland title.
And the quiet-spoken Cats boss is in no doubt as to just why his team landed a phenomenal four-in-a-row at Tipperary’s expense yesterday.
“It was all down to spirit,” stated Cody. “I have always felt that spirit will take you wherever you want to go. Tipperary put us to the pin of our collar and asked some big questions of us, but our team is built on spirit. The sheer character of the whole squad has carried us to this success.”
Even though the pendulum appeared to have swung in Tipperary’s favour entering the last ten minutes, Cody insisted that he never doubted his team’s ability to keep fighting until the end.
“We went in two points ahead at half-time and Tipperary had been going well up until then.
“Then they went ahead in the second-half, but the only time the scoreboard really matters in any game is when the final whistle is blown and we were ahead at that stage,” said Cody cryptically.
When queried on the penalty awarded to his side in the closing stages — a decision that incurred the wrath of the Tipperary fans — Cody looked distinctly uncomfortable, retorting: “Are all the other decisions that the referee made going to be queried?”
Certainly, the goal from that penalty by Henry Shefflin served to convince Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy that, despite his team’s gallant effort, it was not going to be their day.
“That decision, coming on the back off the dismissal of Benny Dunne, was a big call by referee Diarmuid Kirwan and the match slipped away from us after that,” sighed Sheedy.
Yet he admitted that when his side led by 0-20 to 9-17 he felt they were in with a big chance of emerging victorious.
“We went from a position of being three points up to losing the initiative and Kilkenny pressed on from there,” added Sheedy.
“We might have had hard luck not to get a goal, but I am so proud of all thirty-five guys in my squad. The players that started this final and those who came on as subs emptied themselves completely — I could not have asked for more from them. They worked tirelessly throughout, they gave me everything. We are all severely disappointed.”