It was instructive to note that within seconds of James Woodlock collecting the Waterford Crystal Cup on Friday night in Páirc na nGael, Limerick that the piece of glass was returned to its case.
Previous to the clash with the All-Ireland champions manager Eamon O’Shea had warned the press corps that his attention was fixed on Tipperary’s opening Allianz National League clash with Waterford on Saturday, February 15th (7pm - Semple Stadium).
“Next week is the focus to be honest with you,” Eamon O’Shea told the Tipperary Star in the wake of the 4-22 to 3-11 win over Clare.
“Everything is geared toward next Saturday. We want to start to league well. So, we’re simply taking this game as a good game to get, but that’s about it. I am not reading anything into it,” Eamon O’Shea said.
Despite trailing by a point at the break Tipperary collected their fourth Waterford Crystal Cup title with a determined second half display.
“This evening all you could ask for was effort and it was a great effort,” Eamon O’Shea explained.
“The work was really good and from that point of view I wasn’t too concerned about the result. It was about showing some high work rate. We have been training hard and it was good for them to show that.
“You have to be happy. This evening was about the work rate. That was as good as you are going to get it. I was delighted that they worked hard and that they got something out of it. It’s no more and no less than that,” Eamon O’Shea insisted.
Tipperary, with Clare creating a lot of room in front of full-back Conor O’Mahony, shipped 3-1 in a four-minute spell in the opening half, but addressed the issue for the second half with Conor O’Brien manning that vital area.
“Yeah, we had to address that a half-time,” Eamon O’Shea admitted.
“You have to see what is going on out on the pitch and ultimately they (the players) have to sort out what is happening. They had a good chat amongst themselves, we had a good chat and we worked out a slightly different formation.”
Meanwhile Clare manager David Fitzgerald was full of praise for a Tipperary side who claimed the Waterford Crystal Cup in front of 1,248 hurling fans.
“I knew we were going to lose, but in saying that Tipperary are in fair form,” David Fitzgerald told the Tipperary Star.
“They were short of many bodies tonight, but they will be an unbelievable challenge all year. It has to be about Tipperary tonight and their work rate; they were absolutely fantastic. There is no point in me making excuses, they were unreal.”
David Fitzgerald did admit however that his side were behind Tipperary in terms of preparatory work done.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out that,” Fitzgerald joked.
“This time last year we had nine weeks extra work done than what we have done this year. We completely faded; with seventeen or eighteen minutes (of the second half) we were gone. There wasn’t a bit of juice left in them.
“It wouldn’t have mattered anyway tonight; Tipperary would have beaten us no matter what the story was. They were throwing the ball around lovely and they were getting some unreal scores. Hats off to them, could not say enough about them.
“We could have been up seven or eight points in the first half, but in saying that there was only one team in it in the second half. That was Tipperary, they were the only team and they were miles ahead of us. They fought the rucks a lot better than we did. They wanted the ball way more than we did tonight. They were better in the tackle than we were without a shadow of a doubt,” Fitzgerald added.
“For the past couple of months we have had a tough schedule; that goes with being All-Ireland champions, but, listen, I would still rather be where we were last year than where any other team is at the moment. That’s being honest with you; they can never take away that.
“We are All-Ireland champions, but we are a mile off the pace. We will struggle to win games in the league. I think we will improve as the year goes on. I think we will get stronger, no doubt about that, but I think we will struggle in the league. I think we will struggle to win games. We have a lot of work to do; we have an awful lot of work to do.”