Tipperary manager, Eamon O Shea, was possibly the coolest premier county fan in Semple Stadium on Sunday after his charges had beaten All-Ireland champions, Kilkenny, to register their first win in the current Allianz National Hurling League campaign.
Losses in their opening games meant that both sides needed a win to keep in the frame for the closing stages, thereby guaranteeing a serious contest between these two great rivals who seldom need motivation to make the supreme effort when confronting each other.
The slender one point win for Tipperary sets them up nicely for their visit to Galway on Monday next, another huge game in what is developing into an absorbing competition, particularly after Galway’s setback against Clare last Sunday, following their opening win against Kilkenny.
Smiles on their faces readily identified Tipp supporters in the 5,697 attendance who had braved the bitterly cold and sleety elements. Having been on the wrong end of decisions against Kilkenny since the All-Ireland win in 2010, a significant win was overdue, so the smiles on their faces were understandable, even if all that had been achieved was only two league points.
Of course Manager Eamon O Shea was pleased, but not carried away, by the outcome of what he described as a very competitive game that could have gone either way. “ It is just the first step on our way to becoming a good team, the team we want to be”, he said.
He was particularly pleased that the team had shown great character and mettle but he stressed – we are yet nowhere near where we want to be.
He added- The last two weeks in training were very enjoyable as we, as a team, work to get to the level of performance that we seek.
That said, he accepted that any time you get two league points from a game with Kilkenny, it is reason to be happy, and he felt his team would be particularly pleased with how they had battled for the points, but once more he emphasised –we are a long way off being the team we want to be.
Looking ahead to the Galway game, he said that it is going to be a tough assignment but he was hoping for another performance comparable to that which the team gave against Kilkenny.
“I don’t really worry about results at this time of year – it is the performance that matters most. Today’s game was very competitive and very good value for money”, he concluded.
Neither he, nor Kilkenny manager, Brian Cody, offered any comment on the two red cards shown to Tommy Walshe, Kilkenny and Tipperary’s Noel McGrath, sidelined within minutes of each other in the closing stages each having incurred two yellow card bookings.
Pictured right: Tipperary Manager Eamon O’Shea consults with Michael Ryan and Paidi O’Neill during the course of The Premier County’s fine win over All-Ireland and NHL champions Kilkenny in Semple Stadium on Sunday. They face another stiff test in Salthill next Monday when they face All-Ireland finalists Galway.