Martin Comerford has bemoaned Kilkenny’s “systems failure” following Richie Hogan’s red card in last Sunday’s All-Ireland final. Though the six-time All-Ireland winner became the latest former Kilkenny player to dispute the decision to send Hogan off.
“I can’t remember a game changing so dramatically and becoming so one-sided after a sending off. It was as if there was a total systems failure in the Kilkenny camp. That was strange,” Comerford wrote, in his Kilkenny People column.
“Tipperary took over completely in the second half. They had their strategy worked out well to deal with the threat of Colin Fennelly. His assists - setting up other players for scores - have been off the charts this season, but Tipp tied him up.
“When Tipp had the extra man we were still driving the ball towards Fennelly’s position. That was where the system appeared to fall down.”
Comerford echoed the thoughts of Jackie Tyrrell in accusing Cathal Barrett of making too much of the sending-off incident.
“I felt so sorry for what happened to Richie. He got a belt into the nose early on and he suffered a bad cut through the face guard. That looked a heavy and late pull. When you get hit in the face, it is not like getting a belt to the arm, leg or body. It is much more painful.
“The incident then, I don’t know if it was a sending-off offence. To send a man off in the circumstances was harsh. Did the injury, or was there an injury, merit a red card?
“I think the incident was made look far worse than it actually was. If a lad gets a bad shot to the jaw, his head goes sideways. As far as I could see Cathal Barrett’s head seemed to go backwards. He seemed to jump back. It was an All-Ireland final, so a bit more common sense should have been used by the referee.”
Despite Sunday’s disappointment, Comerford suggests Kilkenny will soon end a wait for a 37th senior title that stretches back to 2015.
“It is not codding ourselves to suggest there is the makings of an All-Ireland-winning team in this group. Sunday can’t wipe away what was achieved against Cork and against Limerick. There are a lot of young players involved in the squad. They will learn from this experience.