IT WAS no surprise that Brian Cody had a face on him like a bulldog chawing a wasp as he shook hands with his former Kilkenny General Henry Shefflin.
The post-match pressing of the flesh between two men who had manned the same pumps for yonks should have been warm and emotional.
But it wasn’t.
Understandably perhaps as each had spent recent weeks planning the downfall of the other.
Yet both were innocent victims of a crazy finish to a powder-keg hurling game that ended with an explosion that not a saint or sinner in Salthill saw coming.
Like any team leader worth his or her salt, Cody was livid at having a carpet swiped from under him as Kilkenny appeared to barely beat the clock to record what would have been a respectable result.
Instead his hurling heart was broken, shattered even, as injury time ecstasy turned to agony when Paddy Deegan, one of Kilkenny’s great warriors was adjudged to have fouled.
A free was awarded and Galway had one bite only at the cherry.
LICK THEIR WOUNDS
It was cruel, unlucky, disappointing, call it what you will as Conor Cooney pointed and the Cats were left to lick their wounds.
Whether or not Kilkenny deserved to share the spoils after a last gasp goal by sub John Donnelly is another debate.
Seconds only after the sensational Donnelly delivery, the Grim Reaper kicked in the door.
Fortune favoured the brave would have been Kilkenny supporters’ opinion before catastrophe struck.
Many from both camps would possibly have accepted a point before a game that was more than a hurling match.
It was tribal war.
Given the circumstances, it was a clash that neither manager would have dared to utter the word ‘defeat’ before the throw-in.
That the game ended controversially was merely one of many aspects to an epic that could lead to a book after the pupil put one over on the teacher.
There was the loss of TJ Reid, through injury at half time. To Cody and his troops that had to be akin to a haymaker in the snout from Katie Taylor.
A WICKED BLOW
All things considered, and leaving aside the contentious ending as the Fat Lady was about to sing, the loss of one of our country’s greatest ever hurlers was a wicked blow from which even the bravest would find it nigh impossible to bounce back.
In hindsight, it was a knockout punch.
But while the Devil can be a demon, there is always a book balancer around the corner.
Many of us believe in Karma so an immediate renaissance after a lousy execution would be just reward for our Cats.
Recovery is paramount.
An Ok Corral against Dublin in Parnell Park with TJ Reid and his posse shooting down the Dubs would dump any chagrin in the dustbin of life.
Make no mistake about it, there is a score to be settled even through the victims of a revenge mission may not be the ones who knocked the eggs out of the basket.
We have had the nightmare.
The time is here to dream the dream.