Cody focused firmly on final
BRIAN CODY peered out from underneath his cap after seeing his side send Tipperary hurtling towards their deepest winter in years.
Even in this team's storied history, the second half was something special.
Kilkenny scored 3-15 in the second half to win by 18 points but Cody remained largely unmoved and referenced Galway and the All-Ireland final almost immediately. There is always more glory to be chased.
"My head is telling me that we're in the All-Ireland final and there's not much point in me pontificating about the quality of our play in the All-Ireland semi-final if the All-Ireland final is not sorted.
"If it were in an All-Ireland final you could be enjoying what happened. But I'm acutely conscious of the fact that today was a means to an end. The prize was to get to an All-Ireland final and that's the prize we were after"
The Leinster final loss to Galway seems scarcely believable now. For some, it marked the beginning of the end for a glorious era and then Limerick asked enough questions of Kilkenny for that theory to gain traction.
Tipp looked to be in a good place with their one-point half-time lead. But as they took to the field for the second half, a horde of Kilkenny backs waited at the tunnel and greeted them just as they stepped on the sward. Tipp would score just five more points.
"I have a massive respect for the quality of player we have and their application to the challenge that lies ahead for them," said Cody, who has doubts over Michael Rice's availability for the decider with a "very serious cut" on his finger. "We were beaten in the Leinster final by Galway but at no stage did I think, 'Look, we're beaten'.
"If it had been the following match, we were finished for the year. There's a second chance, which hasn't always been there, and it happened for us this year and I'm aware of the heart that's in the players and the honesty that's in the players. They were never going to throw in the towel, that's for sure.
"This year's Leinster final is played and it's over and done with. We can never win it.
"They will obviously try and replicate and even improve on their Leinster final performance and maybe they will do that and we will just have to make a crazy improvement on our Leinster final performance to have a chance of winning the game. I'm not going to start talking about blowing them up or blowing us down at the moment. It has the makings of a terrific game."
For Declan Ryan, there was neither the will nor the desire to sugar-coat a miserable day.
"We were very happy at half-time. I don't know what happened us. We seemed to lose our shape a little and Kilkenny seemed to win every breaking ball.
"They played slightly defensively in the second half with their midfielders, especially, pulling back. Our boys have been finishing games very strongly all year and I don't know where today's last 20 minutes came out of. It's something we'll have to sit down and analyse."
Ryan, who confirmed that Eoin Kelly didn't play due to a groin injury picked up on club duty, is considering his future after his two-year term ended but he warned against knee-jerk retirements from any players. He also paid special tribute to John O'Brien, who played despite the death of his brother in midweek.
"We had a two-year deal. That's finished now so we'll have to wait and see what the county board and chairman and the backroom team as a whole (want to do). Today isn't the day to be making those decisions.
"It wouldn't be a good time for anyone to make any rash decisions."