Liam Sheedy seemed on the verge of tears as he spoke with the media, admitting: "I'm hurting ... proud but hurting.”

The Tipp's manager had no doubt about the most controversial moment – the penalty call. He felt it was wrong and had changed the course of the game.

"It was probably the changing of the game because the other 14 definitely went up a notch after Benny (substitute Benny Dunne who was sent off) was dismissed," Sheedy said.

"At 21 points to 19, it was a big call and matches are won on big calls," he said. "I've watched it again and it looked a tight call. He started outside the square and finished inside it. Did anyone count the steps?" he asked.

"These are big calls and the day you get those calls is the day you win the match," Sheedy said. "I'd be of the opinion we were unlucky to have a penalty given against us because then, at 22-21, it was always going to be tough a man down.

"The 10 minutes hurling we played before that penalty was absolutely superb and as a Tipperary man I'd be very proud of those guys in there," he continued.

"Benny was unfortunate," Sheedy said of that rash moment of madness from hm.

"I feel for Benny because he's been the pulse of the team in the last 20 minutes for the four games to date, he's been brilliant and he was unfortunate."

Star player Eoin Kelly was equally supportive.

"I mean it from the bottom of my heart," he stressed. "There's 35 lads in there and no one will be pointing fingers at anybody. We stuck together the last 18 months and we're going to stick together the next 12 months until we get the ultimate prize, which deserted us there today."

"It was a turning point but the reaction we got ... some of the points Eoin Kelly and Shane McGrath got! There were loads of moments in the second half where we threw our bodies on the line. Padraig Maher was catching ball on the edge of the square, Decie Fanning, what a game on the 'Hurler of the Year' last year, and right through the team, I'm so proud of them, they've given it everything.

"But we were beaten by five points at the end of the day lads," he mused. "It was a big call but Kilkenny were finishing really strong and the second goal was the one that hurt.

"I felt, as the game went on, all of the space had then developed and we were trying to crowd and bunch at the bottom and all the space was up at the other end."

Tipperary also missed chances of their own, Sheedy said, but found P.J. Ryan on a very good day. “Eoin (Kelly) was unlucky, just slipped at that vital point and Seamie likewise, I actually thought that ball had gone into the back of the net,” he said.

But he confirmed that Tipperary will be back. "Make no mistake, these boys will win All-Irelands!" their manager said. "We just came up that little bit short today but we definitely matched their intensity right through the field.”