Brian Cody has insisted that to “scapegoat” Richie Hogan for Kilkenny’s All-Ireland final defeat to Tipperary would be an “outrageous” thing to do.
Speaking at their Citywest Hotel base yesterday, Cody confirmed for the first time since Hogan’s 33rd minute dismissal on Sunday that he didn’t believe it was a red card.
He said that it had been a “ding-dong” battle and argued referee James Owens’ decision “sucked the life out of the game for everybody”.
Tipperary led by a point when Hogan was sent off, for colliding with the face-guard of Tipp’s Cathal Barrett, and outscored the Cats by 2-16 to 0-9 after the break.
Cody said after the game that he was amazed at the red card and doubled down on that stance.
“I don’t want any message coming across from here that we’re complaining or whingeing or anything,” said Cody.
“Do we believe that it was a red card? No, we don’t. I mean, I was very close... for me, the referee, his expression, his body language, everything about him, suggested... he went around and spoke to different people about it, he even looked at the player involved, and then came along and flashed the red card. So ask him the questions.
“All I’m saying is, watching the referee and seeing what was going to happen, I was amazed when he decided to flash a red card because I would say that an incident happens, and you’re the referee, and straight away in your head it’s, ‘That’s a red card’.
"But to me, his body language suggested nothing of the kind.
“Because he didn’t go over and say, ‘Richie...’ He went over and consulted the linesman, he consulted the player that was down - why, I don’t know - but that’s it, that’s the incident.
"Am I happy about the incident? No. Am I complaining about the result of the match? No.
"Tipperary are All-Ireland champions, fair play to them.”
Cody said he spoke to 31-year-old Hogan on Sunday night and described the Danesfort club man’s situation as “very, very tough”.
When it was suggested that some supporters could blame Hogan for the defeat, Cody said: “To scapegoat him would be outrageous. He didn’t produce the yellow (sic) card.
Ah look, he’s fought injury after injury. He’s fought the odds massively. Lots of people wouldn’t have been able to do that or wouldn’t have had the heart or the stomach to do it.
"He had, and has, and he’s just an outstanding player.”
Cody said the mood among players and supporters throughout Sunday evening and yesterday was that they were proud of the team.
“There was a real sense that the team had played really, really genuinely and honestly,” said the 11-time MacCarthy Cup-winning manager.
“The sending-off impacted massively on the game, a game where we had been competing very, very well, really well.
"Down to 14 men (then), just before half-time, against a team like Tipperary. Like, we weren’t expected to be able to cope with them 15 on 15.
"We’re not at the stage where we can take on Tipperary with 14 players. But the team to me in the second half were outstanding, they kept at it and at it. The scoreboard wasn’t pretty but such is life.”
Cody was speaking in a small alcove in a bar area of the Citywest Hotel, the same spot he sat in three years earlier, after their 2016 final defeat to Tipp.
He guaranteed on that occasion that the county had young talent coming through, players that weren’t necessarily known to the public, and that they would be successful.
Reminded yesterday of that comment three years ago, Cody nodded.
“And there’s still some more,” he said, insisting there’s plenty more to come from his current players also.
“Absolutely, yeah. I mean look, where was the team 33 or 34 minutes into the All-Ireland final, against an outstanding team?
"It was ding-dong, so that’s where we are and that’s where we were yesterday.
"But are we good enough to take on Tipperary with 14 players? No, not a chance.
"They are too good, too skilful. They are top-class and always have been.”