On Saturday evening in O’Connor Park, Tullamore the Tipperary footballers lost to Galway and missed out on the juicy prospect of facing Kerry in an All-Ireland quarter-final at Croke Park. Despite the disappointing result, however, manager Peter Creedon was eager to point to a bright future for Tipperary football.
“Inter-county football is a serious business. It’s about working really hard and there are no soft touches any more, but I do think that we have a lot of serious potential,” Peter Creedon told the Tipperary Star.
“A lot of the guys are quite young and if we can get a bit smarter with our defending I think we could push on again next year. There are great grounds for optimism. I think we have arrived as a serious outfit. We have three or four players that have been out injured this year that will be coming back to us next year and we will be much stronger. The boys will be another year older and we will be a handful again.”
Tipperary played well for long stages of the opening half and deservedly led 0-6 to 0-4 after twenty-one minutes. Galway, however, then proceeded to out-score the Premier 2-3 to 0-1 during the remaining minutes of the opening half to earn a 2-7 to 0-7 interval advantage. Then, to add insult to injury, the Tribesmen fired home two more three-pointers during the opening two minutes of the second half.
“We had chances there in the first half and we could have gone six or seven points up on Galway, but Galway capitalised either side of half-time,” Peter Creedon explained.
“We were working terrifically hard to get back into the game and the lads showed fantastic character. The lads just didn’t give in.
“I was very happy with the first thirty-three minutes because we were comfortable in the game. We probably kicked wides that would have put us further ahead and we had probably turned ball over that we had tried not to do all season, but Galway rallied just before half-time and put us on the back foot. The second half was probably a bit of a roller coaster,” Peter Creedon added.
“We had made a few mistakes and players need to find a bit of composure. Two of them (goals) were just very bad hand passes. When we are playing we want to attack the opposition and we need to use those kind of hand passes. We could easily have stuck fourteen men behind the ball today, but we would have lost anyway. We are disappointed with two of the goals, but the goal just after half-time was a good move by Galway.”
The performance of Colin O’Riordan caught the eye of the 7,837-strong crowd in Tullamore on Saturday evening. The JK Bracken’s man was simply extraordinary.
“He was wing-back, but everywhere,” Peter Creedon agreed.
“For a guy that has just done his leaving cert he has huge heart in him when he is wearing the Tipperary jersey. We have some good players, but we also, obviously, have room for improvement as well. I think there is real optimism for Tipperary football going forward.”
On Saturday evening Peter Creedon, who was joined on the management ticket by Michael McGeehan, Michael O’Loughlin, Eugene Cooney and Tommy Toomey, brought his term as manager of the Tipperary senior football team to a close. When asked if he could be encouraged to continue in the role the Cork man was non-committal.
“I would probably say yes, but I have a busy life and there are other factors outside of that as well that need to be taken into consideration. I think at this stage that to be an inter-county manager you need to be either retired or take it on as a full-time role. Maybe they (the players) deserve a person who can give it that time,” Peter Creedon explained.
Galway manager Alan Mulholland admitted in the wake of his side’s five-point win that he was more than concerned about the challenge posed by Tipperary.
“I wouldn’t say worried, but we were very apprehensive,” Alan Mulholland told the Tipperary Star.
“We knew that we were going to have to play well. The two teams are in a development stage, both are trying to build on underage talent and make a breakthrough. After we had beaten them last year they would have seen beating us this year as a progression. So, when you put all that in the mix there was a lot of apprehension coming up here today.”
Mulholland also highlighted the goals plundered prior the break as a key factor: “We were playing into a slight wind and we would have been happy to go in level at half-time, but just to get those two goals before the end was vital. There was great energy in the dressing room at half-time. We talked about taking on the third quarter and taking the game away from Tipperary”.
Galway thundered into a fourteen-point lead in the second half before Tipperary rallied with a plethora of late scores: “I won’t be disrespectful to Tipperary and say that we took the foot off the peddle, but I do think that our defending changed and we started to back off them. We didn’t go out and tackle them and we got very anxious. We invited them onto us. The four goals we conceded were disappointing. If we are going to play Kerry in Croke Park we can’t defend like that.”
“It’s hard to win championship matches and we won one today,” Alan Mulholland added.
“We’re one step further along the way. The Connacht final was disappointing, but this is making up for it. Now we are playing in Croke Park on the August Bank Holiday weekend. Look, Kerry will be favourites, but it’s a great challenge to have. We are looking forward to playing them.”