'Certainly to scapegoat him would be outrageous... outrageous, completely' - Brian Cody leaps to defence of Hogan
The morning after an All-Ireland final defeat is never a pretty place to be but the emotions are heightened when an injustice that "impacted massively" on the result has taken place, as Kilkenny boss Brian Cody felt in the wake of Richie Hogan's contentious red card.
The sense of a cloud hanging over their 14-point defeat to Tipperary was evident as Cody spoke yesterday morning before returning to Noreside and the 11-time All-Ireland-winning manager still cannot get his head around the decision.
The 33rd-minute red card shown to Hogan by Wexford referee James Owens for a head-high, upper-arm charge on Cathal Barrett clearly irks Cody and while not making any excuses for their comprehensive reversal, he refuses to allow the Danesfort forward to be scapegoated.
"Certainly to scapegoat him would be outrageous... outrageous, completely. He didn't produce the red card," a visibly frustrated Cody said before elaborating on the dismissal of the 2014 Hurler of the Year.
"I'm not going to start pontificating about this and that and I don't want any message coming across from here that we're complaining or whingeing or anything like that. Do we believe it was a red card? No, I don't. But that's just normal practice.
"I mean I was very close to it, for me, the referee didn't know. In his expression, his body language, everything about him suggested... he went around and he spoke to different people about it, even looked at the player involved and then came along and flashed a red card.
"And that's what he did, so ask him the questions. 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, straight away your head says that's a red card.
"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.
"Am I happy about the incident? No. Am I complaining about the result of the match? No. Tipperary are All-Ireland champions and fair play to them."
The sending-off "sucked the life out of the game for everybody" with Cody adamant that "the game was certainly decided in the 33rd minute" and that there was no hint of foul play with that "huge decision" confirming the destination of Liam MacCarthy.
"Was it a dirty game? Was it a clean game? Was there bits and pieces of physicality in it as there should be? Was there a huge decision made coming up to half-time controversially? That's the reality you know," Cody said.
The 65-year-old gave little indication of his future at the Kilkenny helm after completing his 21st season in charge but he is likely to confirm that he will remain in situ for 2020 over the coming months.
Much like his rousing words after their 2016 final defeat to Tipp when insisting that some serious talent was ready to break through, he claimed that "there's still some more".
While finishing the year minus any silverware, Cody reflected on a successful year having reached the final against the odds and their performance in the face of adversity has reaffirmed his belief that the future is bright for the black and amber.
"Nobody expected us to be in the All-Ireland final. I think we were 12/1 before the Cork match, someone tells me. I don't follow these things, but I'm told that which gives an indication of the public perception and even the professional perception.
"I never felt like that, I had a huge belief in the panel of players we have and their honesty and everything else about them. After yesterday, if anything that has even increased."
As for Hogan's future having battled serious injuries, the Kilkenny maestro said "that's a question for Richie" before lauding his defiance to line out for the Cats.
"He's fought injury after injury. He's fought the odds massively," Cody remarked of Hogan. "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."