MARTIN COMERFORD got advance warning that he wouldn't be starting last Sunday's All-Ireland senior hurling final.
The Kilkenny veteran took his omission on the chin, emerging as the game-changing super-sub against Tipperary with a hand in Kilkenny's penalty before scoring their second goal less than a minute later.
But Comerford has now revealed that he already knew a bench role beckoned before Brian Cody announced his starting 15 last Friday night. "I got a phone call Thursday night to tell me I wasn't playing - someone must have got word of a (match) programme or something!" the three-time All Star explained.
"It wasn't from management, no. These things get out from time to time but, sure, there's rumours about teams every year.
"It was very disappointing that you weren't playing, but a manager has a job to do and he's not trying to lose the game on Kilkenny ... he's trying to put out his best team as he sees.
"He's picking it on training, and there are other players who have as much disappointment or even more than I would have. Younger players like John Dalton, PJ Delaney, fantastic players. TJ Reid - he's going to be a joy to watch, the things he can do with the ball is phenomenal - and he wasn't playing, so it's not just myself."
According to Comerford, he found it relatively easy to refocus on his new sub role. "A little bit of the pressure is off when you're not starting. You're a bit more relaxed over the weekend," he reflected. He conceded that Kilkenny found it difficult to "keep the bar at the height" of their 2008 form, but saluted their "great experience and character" to pull through in several games. It won't be any easier next year, but he expects most of the current crew to be back, himself included.
"We'll have to see what Mr Cody has to write in his book first!" he quipped, before adding: "Going back to win five in-a-row would be another remarkable achievement but we'll see what happens." Comerford, who turns 31 in November, was speaking in Croke Park where Guinness announced that Arthur's Goal had raised €24,000 for the GAA 125 hurling development fund.