John Mullane: 'Cody won't be quitting and those questioning his future as Cats boss need a strong dose of realism'
The over-reaction to one result in the GAA always amazes me and when people started asking where to now for Kilkenny and Brian Cody after last Sunday's humbling All-Ireland final defeat to Tipperary, the answer was simple and it will never change.
If Brian Cody has the energy and drive to keep going, he is the only man for the job and it's that simple. While some have said it was the first time that a team under Cody has thrown in the towel, people need to take off the blinkers.
The magnitude of what he achieved to rally the troops after the Leinster final defeat to Wexford and get them back to hurling's biggest stage against all the odds ranks as one of the biggest feats in his glittering managerial career.
They were dominated in the final but Richie Hogan's sending-off had a massive bearing on proceedings and if there's any team you can't afford to play against with 14 men, it's Tipperary with their slick brand of heads-up hurling.
While the predictability of their play and going route one is questionable, putting TJ Reid and Walter Walsh inside was always going to be Plan B when things weren't working for them and they were left chasing the game as gaps started to appear with Tipp's numerical advantage.
Many will question whether Cody is rolling with the times tactically but if anyone needs a reminder, look back at the Cork and Limerick games to see that Cody and his backroom team have what it takes to nullify the top teams.
While Kilkenny continue to chase Liam MacCarthy, the word transition shouldn't be thrown out because that's not in their DNA. Their mindset means that they will always be competitive and challenge for silverware no matter who takes to the field.
With Cody at the helm for a 22nd season, those competitive levels will continue to be at a maximum and the standard that has been set for what it takes to wear that black and amber jersey under his watch will never drop.
Their second-half performance was a one-off and unlikely to be repeated by a Cody-managed team. He has never shirked away from a challenge and has bounced back in the past so there is no doubt that the baseball cap and the spit on the hands will be back for 2020.
He has freshened up his backroom team before and may look to do so again, while there's no doubt that many of this year's promising U-20 panel will be parachuted in with the hope of making a similar impact to what Adrian Mullen did this year.
Don't be too surprised also if someone like Derek McGrath rocks up into Cody's backroom team for 2020. But for now, we take a glance back at the year that was and dish out our annual awards.
TEAM OF THE YEAR
Brian Hogan; Seán Finn, Liam Ryan, Ronan Maher; Brendan Maher, Pádraig Walsh, Pádraic Maher; Noel McGrath, Diarmuid O'Keeffe; Lee Chin, TJ Reid, Jason Forde; Patrick Horgan, Séamus Callanan, Aaron Gillane.
HURLER OF THE YEAR
Séamus Callanan. What a captain he has been for Tipp this year. Unlucky not to pick up the award before, he will be named hurling's greatest showman with eight goals in eight consecutive championship games saying it all.
YOUNG HURLER OF THE YEAR
Adrian Mullen. Must be lauded for playing the final despite illness and had an unbelievable debut season. Offered Kilkenny something different up front and lightened the load on TJ Reid. Rory O'Connor is a close second.
GOAL OF THE YEAR
Patrick Horgan on his knees against Kilkenny in the All-Ireland quarter-final. What a magician this man is and that highlighted his class yet again. It edges Seamus Callanan's first-time pull again Wexford and Shane Dowling's batted effort against Kilkenny.
SURPRISE OF THE YEAR
Galway's early exit from the summer and the sudden departure of Micheál Donoghue. After back-to-back All-Ireland finals, everyone thought Galway were primed for a long summer but they were dumped out of Leinster by Dublin and now face a worrying few months without a manager.
STORY OF THE YEAR
It's hard to look past Laois' journey to an All-Ireland quarter-final and that wonderful win against the Dubs in Portlaoise. It gives massive encouragement to Joe McDonagh Cup teams that anything is possible.
SCORE OF THE YEAR
The most important score of the year goes to Wexford's Mark Fanning. What a crucial time to score a penalty in the Leinster final which effectively gave Wexford the cushion to push on and hold out for a first Leinster title in 15 years.
SAVE OF THE YEAR
Six points down, Séamus Callanan was bearing down on goal in the Munster final with the umpire ready to raise the green flag as he went low and hard off his right side but Limerick goalkeeper Nickie Quaid somehow prevented an almost certain goal by spreading himself and throwing his legs at the ball to stop it with his right foot.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR
It can only be one man, Tipp's messiah Liam Sheedy. He put it all on the line to come back and was the only man capable of re-energising Tipp after the 12-point defeat in the Munster final. He now turns his attention to being the first man to lead Tipp to back-to-back All-Ireland titles since 1964-'65.
BIGGEST TALKING POINT
The missed '65 for Limerick which might have brought their All-Ireland semi-final against Kilkenny to extra-time. When John Kiely's men look back on the season, they will be happy with two trophies from three but immortality could have been achieved if the right call was made.