Kilkenny’s reign as the kingpins of hurling is over – as Henry Shefflin’s bid to make history ended in a red card fiasco.
Shefflin’s chances of a 10th All-Ireland senior hurling winner’s medal disappeared when he was sent-off in Sunday’s quarter-final defeat to Cork.
The Ballyhale ace was harshly dismissed when he picked up a second yellow card just before half-time in the 0-19 to 0-14 defeat.
Kilkenny never recovered from the loss of their star man in the first game he has started all year after a foot injury.
And while boss Brian Cody had no problem acknowledging that a hungrier and fresher Cork deserved their win, he was critical of the decision to send Shefflin off.
The Cats boss blasted: “As regards yellow cards, it has gone crazy, it has gone mad altogether.
“But if that is the way they want it, that is the way they like it. I have no idea why Henry Shefflin got two yellow cards.
“The second one was so clear to me, there was a Cork player falling down, his hurl was very low and when a player falls, the hurl obviously ends up around his neck.
“But Henry didn’t put the hurl up there. The person put his body down into it. But look I am not going to be complaining about referees or anything else.
“I could have done that for years and I haven’t done it so congratulations to Cork, it was a great win.
“Our lads gave it everything, their spirit was fantastic out there. We kept going to the very, very end.
“Things did not particularly go our way in certain facets of the game but then again we have been successful for a long time now and we are facing now what a long number of counties have faced from us over the years, I suppose.”
Question marks have already been raised over the future of Cody as Kilkenny manager and Shefflin as their star man.
But Cody refused to comment on the future as Kilkenny failed to reach the All-Ireland final for the first time since 2005 and missed the semis for the first time in 16 years.
Cody, who underwent heart surgery earlier in the year, told RTÉ Sport: “I have no idea. Obviously, I don’t come in to today deciding that this is whatever it is. I’ve no idea at all.
“I feel the same as I do every other year about it. I have no idea, there’s no decision made about anything so I won’t even consider it for a long, long time.
“There has been a few ‘ends of eras’ predicted all along over the last number of years and I don’t think eras ever end, to be honest about it.
“If an end of a era means it’s the end of the Kilkenny senior hurling team being competitive at inter-county level I’d say it’s something that shouldn’t be allowed to happen so let’s wait and see.
“There is mileage on some of them legs and there’s not much mileage on others, but a team evolves, a team changes, individuals come and go and the team goes on.”
Cork will now face Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park on August 11th.
Clare will play Limerick in the second semi-final a week later after Davy Fitzgerald’s side beat Galway by 1-23 to 2-14.