Commentators really irked Brian Cody when they questioned the spirit in the Kilkenny camp, but the players gave an emphatic response, he insisted.
“It was an absolutely brilliant performance from start to finish,” the Kilkenny manager of 16 seasons insisted after Saturday’s thrilling All-Ireland final replay victory over Tipperary.
“I thought our attitude was top class. Again, what shone through was our spirit.”
The James Stephens man was to expand on this issue of questioning the spirit in the national media later, but even when we spoke in the dressing-room shortly after the game he clearly wanted the opportunity to reply.
“That was a super win,” he added. “It was outstanding because the challenge was top class. The response from the players was magnificent.
“I thought our defence, our defending all over the field, was magnificent. Our defence was heroic. The blocking, which to me is possibly the greatest skill in the game, was absolutely at a level that hasn’t been seen before.
“The spirit was magnificent but amazingly, even within our own county - I didn’t read the papers over the last few weeks, but I get reports on what’s in them - I believe our spirit was being questioned.
“I think that is disgusting. Our spirit has always been supreme. Once again, if you go back to the All-Ireland semi-final against Limerick, we were tested every single way.
“Incredibly tested by a magnificent team, which is easily forgotten now, and in what were atrocious conditions. Our spirit kept us going that day. The last day again was an absolute incredible challenge against Tipperary.
“Again our spirit shone through and today it reached new heights. From the throw-in it was spot on. The game was on about 30 seconds and we had three blocks, three incredible blocks done.
“That set a great tone. When Tipp got a breakthrough goal it lifted them. Of course it did, but again our response was magnificent.
“We got back into it. There was two points in it at half-time. The lads hit a higher plateau in the second half. Straight away the effort was magnificent, again.”
He felt the five points Kilkenny scored immediately after the break “were incredible scores, created in a fantastic way.”
His exact words were: “The players drove on with sheer determination. They weren’t going to be stopped. They were superb.
“We have an excellent panel. People make stupid assertions and assumptions about us, about the pace of our back line. Seamus Callanan was clean through in the first half. J.J. Delaney got a hook on him that was magnificent. That was top class defending from an incredible player.
“It just went on and on. Things like that were made happen all over the field.”
He was thrilled for Henry Shefflin, and the fact he won a record 10th All-Ireland medal.
“Henry is an outstanding athlete,” he insisted. “What he has done is a terrific achievement, and especially so for a fellow who has had the most serious injury any sports person could have, not just once but a couple of times.
“He showed a magnificent attitude to keep going. The fantastic things is that he won all the medals on the field as well.
“You don’t ever deserve anything like that. You earn it. It is a magnificent day for Henry Shefflin and the panel.”