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Cody - it looked to me like the referee was not certain

Family joy: Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy celebrates with his brother Mike
Family joy: Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy celebrates with his brother Mike

By Colm Keys

Brian Cody insisted it wasn't and couldn't be the abiding message coming from him in the wake of his heaviest ever competitive defeat as Kilkenny manager. But how could it not be, given where the game was and where it ended up?

Tipperary had just inflicted a first double-digit All-Ireland final defeat on his managerial watch, taking to 31 points the cumulative winning margin they've had in their three wins over their great rivals on hurling's blue riband day in this decade.

That's worth repeating. Tipperary have beaten Kilkenny to win their three All-Ireland titles on this run by an average of just over 10 points each time.

When Kilkenny have lost All-Ireland finals under Cody they have lost them hard, with the exception of his first against Cork in 1999 when the margin was just a point. But between Cork in 2004 and Tipp in 2010, 2016 and now, 2019, there's been a strange inevitability down the home straight.

Each time Cody has pushed out the 'no excuses' mantra giving no oxygen to sympathetic overtures or perceived injustices. But Richie Hogan's 33rd-minute red card for catching Cathal Barrett in the head with an elbow had him torn between the clear impact it had on the game and an unwillingness to take anything away from Tipperary's win.

"I don't want the story going out that I am here, whingeing about that incident in the game. I am here as manager of the Kilkenny hurling team who fought heroically throughout the whole game, right throughout the whole year, played magnificently to get here against all the odds and of all of yourselves (media) and everyone else. I am not being smart in saying that, that was the general expectation of the team.

"We had played outstandingly well all throughout the year. When the knockout matches came, quarter-final and semi-final, we were excellent.

"Today again, right up to half-time, who could predict the winner of the game?" he asked.

"Unfortunately, we lost a player and that is why it is being spoken about. It is spoken about in general because there is divided opinions on what should or shouldn't be. Obviously, that is what happened to us. And we weren't able, we weren't good enough to take on Tipperary down a player, it's that simple."

Hogan's challenge had caught Barrett as he stepped back to evade his opponent. Referee James Owens took him time to deliberate before confirming to Hogan that the punishment was red, in accordance with a directive issued at the beginning of the season that such head-high challenges would be dealt with in this manner.

Asked for his opinion on the directive, Cody wasn't in the mood for a debate.

"I am not going to start pontificating on my views on anything. I don't have a view on that, to be honest about it. All I will say about the red card is that it appeared to me that the referee was absolutely not certain what to do. And then he decided he would give him a red card. That is what he decided. You better talk to him."

In Cody's eyes such hesitancy amounted to sufficient ambiguity not to merit it.

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