Cody: 'We're going to be playing the best team in the country next'
The light went out briefly in the GAA Museum yesterday as Brian Cody's post-match press conference was in full flow.
But it was about the only disconcerting note of an otherwise perfect afternoon for the maestro who has now guided Kilkenny to 18 All-Ireland semi-final appearances since 1999.
"Obviously the game was all about winning," said Cody. "As I said here the last day (after the Leinster final) we had to win one game to get to the All-Ireland semi-final. Thanks be to God we have done that and now we are in the All-Ireland semi-final and that's a nice place to be."
Asked about the challenge of facing Limerick, who beat Kilkenny in last year's quarter-final, Cody's rarely-witnessed sense of humour surfaced. "Oh yeah," he said with a quiet laugh.
"From the frying pan into the fire. We are acutely aware that we are playing the best team in the country.
"They were the best team in the country last year because they won the All-Ireland final. But they're the best team in the country even more so now because they followed that by winning the league and their form the last day was exceptional.
"And I think they are everybody's strong favourite to come out on top, not only the next day but for eventual honours. But that's a terrific challenge for us to be facing."
At times in the first quarter the Kilkenny defence looked in danger of being over-run as Patrick Horgan and Alan Cadogan ran the show up front for Cork.
"They are very difficult to counteract. What I will say is that some of our players did have a tough enough time early on but they showed real character, real resolve, real honesty and real genuineness not to just drop the head or whatever it is and just keeping going to the very end. They're serious, serious players."
He also praised the contribution of the Kilkenny substitutes, who contributed 0-6 from play when the game was in the melting pot, describing the overall performance as a "heroic effort by everybody".
Cork boss John Meyler looked and sounded crest-fallen. He identified Richie Hogan's goal immediately after half-time as a turning point.
"I'm disappointed. I thought we got a great start. We really drove into it and we were running through Kilkenny early on. But it was the goal that Richie got just after half-time just killed it. They outscored us for about 10 or 15 minutes - it was 1-8 to 0-1 or something like that. We just couldn't get the ball past midfield, past their half-back line and the substitutions."
Seven first-half wides also hurt the Rebels, who haven't won in Croke Park since 2013.
"Luke (Meade) had one and Lehane had one and they should have gone over the bar. We'd have gone three or four points up at that stage because we were absolutely flying early on and it wasn't on the scoreboard, that's the problem."
Cork have now lost two All-Ireland semi-finals and one quarter-final on the spin at headquarters, but Meyler dismissed the idea that they are jinxed at the venue.
"We need to go again. We need to dig deeper again. The U-20s are in the Munster final. We have a lot of young fellas out there, Kingston Robbie O'Flynn, Tim O'Mahoney, Niall O'Leary, Sean O'Donoghue they're all young. From that point of view the future is bright.
"It's not a jinx or a hoodoo or anything like that, but just getting up here and winning a tight match, it's critical. Cork hurling will be back next year, have no doubt about that," said Meyler, who, when asked about his future, said he would go home and take stock.
"It is tough, it is hard, it is disappointing," he acknowledged. He felt particular disappointment for Patrick Horgan, who has emerged as arguably the top hurler in the country yet to win an All-Ireland medal.
Yesterday he scored a remarkable 3-10 (2-2 from play) and yet ended up on the losing side.
"One of the best hurlers in the last ten years. Incredible hurler, incredible stick person," added Meyler of Horgan.
But unquestionably the day belonged to Brian Cody.
Last night in Nowlan Park two old-timers, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, took centre stage.
But by the end of the week, Cody - the real king of Nowlan Park - will be back on the pitch plotting the downfall of another Munster team. Write off the Cats at your peril.