There was a real air of celebration about the Double tree Hilton Hotel in Ballsbridge on Sunday evening when the Tipperary players arrived for their after-match banquet. But, there was no silverware.......... for now.
The Tipperary Association in Dublin had laid on a fabulous reception and while the champagne was put on hold in anticipation of welcoming the Liam McCarthy Cup later in the month, there was still much to celebrate - the performance of the Premier County hurlers for one.
The atmosphere was convivial and collected with nobody getting too carried away. But, there was also a steely determination to finish off the job on the next day and to really give Tipperary folkds something to cheer about.
The Tipperary Association in Dublin have been doing this for many generations now as they celebrate their 80th year in existence this year, but rarely have they seen so engrossing an absorbing a game of such intensity. And, Eamon O’Shea’s men played a huge role in having the global community talking hurling with the game reaching far out places only dreamed about or read about in books.
The game itself was far out too and though the Manager gave his reaction immediately after the match, he had more time to think about his comments when he was called to the podium by President Liam Myles.
“We are half way through here and we are already thinking tonight about how we are going to do it. We did not come here to draw. We came here to win and that is what we intend to do in three weeks time,” said Eamon who lauded the players for sticking to the game plan right to the very end.
“We are at a very critical point in our development now and that is why we intend to finish the job off. You saw the character and personality of the team today and that was only the forerunner to what you will see in three weeks time. We have a lot of work to do and that starts now. I am taking the players away in half an hour for some private time and we are back on the road tomorrow with a recovery sessions. That’s our plan now and we intend following it,” he said.
Tipperary Captain Brendan Maher added, “We want to get behind the scenes now and get the work done because we will get the job done the next day. We are fully determined to do so,” he said.
The players had received a rousing standing ovation when they entered the ballroom having arrived from Croke Park and President Liam Myles told them how proud they had made the county feel on the day. “The scales are tipping in our favour,” he said and he encouraged all the members of the public to get behind the team and give them every possible support over the course of the next three weeks.
Archbishop Dermot Clifford quoted pundits as saying that there would only be a puck of the ball between them ‘and what a puck it was. It took hawkeye to decide what was a real rollercoaster game,” he said.
“Had we lost today it would have been a moral victory, but what we have today is victory postponed for three weeks. You sized them up the last day and you will slice them up the next day,” the GAA Patron said.
County Board Chairman Sean Nugent paid tribute to the Tipperary Supporters Club and the Tipperary Association in Dublin for the huge support they provide to the Board on an ongoing basis. He added that the very many sponsors help to keep the show on the road for the Association in Tipperary and he acknowledged the magnificent effort on the part of the players as well as the huge role played by the management and backroom team too.
“We owe them a huge debt of gratitude. We came as close as close could be to pulling down that great team from Kilkenny - the team of the decade. We are still standing and we will be ready for the next day. We can promise you that right now,” he said.
The players mixed and mingled with family members and friends before departing to start work straight away on completing the job started on Sunday last. The only pity is that they must wait three weeks before they can complete that job.
The Liam McCarthy Cup is on hold for a trip to Tipp.