By the end of the second league semi-final in Thurles, it had emerged that Galway captain Fergal Moore's injury (right) wasn't as bad as feared after his departure on a spinal board and his hospitalisation had been precautionary so attention turned to another convalescent, Kilkenny manager Brian Cody.
In his absence while recovering from surgery, his team showed no lack of direction and eased to a comfortable victory against a Galway side with whom they had a season-defining rivalry last year.
It was noted that neither of his selectors Martin Fogarty or Michael Dempsey had designated themselves manager for the day.
“Neither of us are that brave that we’d wear the bib in his absence!” said Dempsey. “We were in contact with him during the week, he’s recovering well but he hasn’t been in at training or anything like that. He’s been keeping a close eye on us.
“In his absence he still has a huge influence over the team. The spirit and influence he has is still there, it’s been such an influence these players’ careers so just because he’s missing for one day ...
“Obviously today will make Brian happy and boost his recovery good enough to get back for the next day but it’s unlikely he’ll be there for the Tipp match (final) but he should be back in for the first round of the championship.”
Galway selector Tom Helebert said that concerns about team captain Moore had been allayed. "Purely precautionary at this stage," he said of the hospitalisation, "and all the indications are he's going to be okay. I would describe him as semi-conscious when we were talking to him on the sideline. He took a hard hit; it was nothing more than two guys going for the ball and he came out the wrong side."
There was less to be cheerful about in the match itself but Helebert indicated there would be no major soul-searching over the outcome.
"You're trying to win the game and you're trying to evaluate players and how they might develop for you in the stiffer tests that lie ahead. Today was a league semi-final for us and it would have been nice to win it. We're not going to go home morbidly depressed because we lost it."
The All-Ireland under-21 football final between Cork and Galway will take place at Limerick's Gaelic Grounds on Saturday, May 4th at 7pm.