The pain was clear on Brian Cody’s face as the dust settled at Croke Park on Sunday evening – the pain of the heaviest Championship defeat of his 21 years with Kilkenny
The pain of the biggest All-Ireland hurling final margin of victory since his own team beat Waterford by 23 points in the 2008 decider.
The source of the pain was even clearer as far as the wily old man of hurling was concerned -- James Owens should never have sent Richie Hogan to the line even if the video replays proved Hogan’s elbow connected with Cathal Barrett’s face as they contested a ball on the sideline in the 32nd minute of Sunday’s final.
Like his old forward Henry Shefflin back in the RTE Studio, Cody was perplexed by Owens’ decision to send Hogan packing -- a decision made after quite a lot of deliberation on the part of the officials.
“There’s a lot of ye here and I wonder what ye all think because nobody seems to know,” Cody said when he addressed the media at his post-match press conference. “I was close to it. I was amazed.
“I am the manager of the Kilkenny hurling team and I didn’t really know. 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.”
A brave reporter even suggested to Cody that the TV replays showed Hogan making contact with Barrett.
In television land, Kilkenny legend Shefflin was happy to tell the world and his wife that the red card decision was a wrong one.
“Where is the common sense to this? I still don’t think Hogan hit him with his elbow in the face. For me it was a yellow card,” said Shefflin on RTE’s live coverage of the final.
“This game was influenced majorly by that decision. I’m not saying it because I’m from Kilkenny, but the game was over. The atmosphere was sucked out and the life was gone out of it.”
For Barrett, lucky not to get sent off himself after a scrap with Hogan minutes earlier, there was some sympathy for the Kilkenny player.
“First and foremost, any man who steps on to the field deserves massive credit because the effort that lads put in, from Tipp, Kilkenny and every other county is unbelievable,” Barrett told RTE Sport’s Marty Morrissey.
“It’s a full-time job playing hurling. It’s very heartbreaking for someone to get sent off. It’s not something I’d like to see myself. It’s hard to know. I don’t the rule, like if it’s a head-high tackle so it must be a red.
“Personally, I wouldn’t have liked to see him go myself. It’s the biggest day of the year. You’re training nine months for it and it’s kind of taken from you. It’s not nice. It’s a bit disappointing for him.”
Cody and Shefflin had a point, even if it was a sore one. That dismissal killed Kilkenny’s hopes of victory as Tipp swamped then numerically where it mattered and hit them with early second half goals from Seamus Callanan and Bubbles O’Dwyer when it really mattered.
“It was a decisive factor, there’s no doubt about that,” added 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 halftime and getting them very close again.
“But I thought our hurling was very good and the sending off was going to make it a huge ask obviously.”