Wexford referee James Owens will have woken up to the sound of Kilkenny fans and the odd neutral bemoaning that he ruined this year's All-Ireland final. 

It's a lonely road is ruining All-Ireland finals, but someone has to do it.

That's probably why there's always a beady-eyed assessor sat up in the stands making sure he does in fact ruin the All-Ireland.   

That might annoy Brian Cody most of all, the idea that the faceless assessor is sat up there (probably a German economist from the IMF, or even worse, a former Gaelic football ref) marking Owens up for his pedantic adherence to the rulebook. 

Cody has already made his feelings known on referee assessors. He has made his feelings known in a very blunt fashion. In 2007, he said he wanted to shoot them (jokingly obviously). 

While James Owens was correct in rule to issue a red card to Richie Hogan for his first half elbow on Cathal Barrett, such has been the trend in hurling refereeing, it's slightly surprisingly he didn't take the easy, less contentious way out and show him a yellow. 

In the modern era, the hurling public has often appeared to rate referees on how little they blow the whistle.

The less a whistle is blown, then the better the ref.  

A referee who arrived at the ground having forgotten his whistle altogether would probably be judged as the greatest referee in history.

Only the prissy assessors would have a problem.  

 Kilkenny, in particular, have been advocates of lenient, laissez-faire, let-it-flow refereeing for a long time now. 

Brian Cody arguing with James Owens

The Cats dominated hurling in the noughties becoming known for a 'power game' in which their players 'played on the edge' (voted hurling cliche of the year, 2009). 

And yet if you listened to Brian Cody's interviews throughout that period, you'd swear hurling was permanently on the brink of becoming tag rugby. 

In 2005, he responded with fury to the experimental rules trialled in the National League aimed at eradicating 'cynicism' from hurling, wondering aloud what Christy Ring and Eddie Keher would have thought of them. 

In 2007, he made the comments about shooting the assessor. In the same interview, he said it seemed to him that the GAA were trying to ban defending altogether. 

In 2014, he warned that hurling couldn't become a "non-contact sport", insisting "there's an absolute emphasis on heading in that direction."

That last comment was made in the context of a conversation about Kilkenny great Eddie Keher's campaign to abolish yellow and red cards altogether, a "pompous and triumphalist exercise causing humiliation to our great players." Cody gave unqualified support to the proposal. 

This campaign seemed a little confusing at the time since, humiliation aside, the punishment is the same whether a player is ordered off via the flashing of a red card or the old-fashioned point towards the sideline. 

But once one dug into the argument, it became clear that Keher and Kilkenny did not just object to cards as a visual spectacle, they objected to the fact that there was too much penalising going on, as if because the ref came armed with a pack of cards, he was thus compelled to use them. 

The popular idea in this period was that referees best served the game and the contest by largely getting out of the way and not intruding with their big, dramatic, distortive red cards.  

This laissez-faire refereeing style appeared to have its Lehman Brothers moment in the infamous 2012 semi-final between Kilkenny and Tipperary.

The Cats, notwithstanding their rather unsubtle advocacy in this area, were the primary victims of this episode, with Michael Rice's hand badly broken in the first half. At one point in the second half, Richie Power was penalised for over-carrying even after his helmet had been ripped clean off. As a bad-tempered match wound down, Padraic Maher somehow avoided a red card for swinging out wildly at TJ Reid. No doubt, at the time, showing a yellow card to Maher was regarded as the 'common sense' thing to do.

Cathal McAllister was axed from the inter-county panel in the wake of the controversial 2012 semi-final between Kilkenny and Tipperary

The assessors let their feelings be known by axing Cathal McAllister from the inter-county panel for the 2013 championship. The verdict from the media was that 'Let the game flow' refereeing had officially gone too far. 

Cody was incensed by the injury to Rice and the nature of several incidents in that semi-final but still his pre-All-Ireland final comments were aimed at preventing a crackdown in the decider. 

"I think there could be a stupid reaction now. The last three All-Ireland finals were played and the game was let flow. They were outstanding games. Suddenly, there could be this crazy reaction to a couple of instances from last Sunday which should have been dealt with last Sunday, not in two weeks' time. And suddenly: yellow card, red card for nothing."

The popular idea in this period was that referees best served the game and the contest by largely getting out of the way and not intruding with their big dramatic, distortive red cards. 

Henry Shefflin name-checked Brian Gavin fleetingly in his Sunday Game comments yesterday, and while the conversation took off in a different direction, we can reasonably conclude the former Offaly official's name was being invoked as part of a paean to let-it-flow, let-it-go, 'common-sense' refereeing. 

(Gavin was a highly regarded and popular ref with laissez-faire instincts but if Shefflin was about to argue he wouldn't have sent off Hogan, then he would appear to be off the mark, at least judging by Gavin's Examiner column this morning).

Tipperary's bare-footed maestro Babs Keating also lamented the absence of 'common sense', writing in his Irish Sun column that the Hogan decision was a 'wrong call" which "destroyed the game". 

"Nobody paid €90 to have that happen," wrote Babs

Common sense refereeing, as we've noted before, is defined in a GAA context as the use of discretion when the rulebook is becoming a pain in the backside. 

It is of course hard to find people with a bad word to say about 'common sense' but us stuck-in-the-mud's are obliged to point out that the very concept is an invitation to arbitrary and ultimately inconsistent decision-making down the line. 

In this instance, it could be argued that the definition of common sense is being stretched a little if it means an unwillingness to send off a fella for an elbow to the head. 

But then that's the issue with common sense. People's interpretation of what actually constitutes common sense can be very, very different. Whereas the rules in the rulebook are at least written down in black and white. 

Reading the reports and the gripes, it's clear that the chief objection to the red card call is that it didn't do anything for the game as a contest.

This is probably true, though you could argue the tide was turning in direction of the favourites already.  

The story goes that All-Ireland final was a finely poised - if rather scrappy - affair until Kilkenny were reduced to 14 men, after which Tipperary sauntered to a runaway victory which left the neutral feeling unmoved and short-changed.  

But it's not James Owens's job to engineer a close or exciting contest. (Nor is he responsible for the GAA's pricing strategy for tickets). 

It's his job to adjudicate fairly on the contest and enforce the rules. 

If the enforcement of the rules ruins the game as a contest, then people's issue is with the rulebook or the player committing the infraction. 

It shouldn't be with the referee.