The nuclear fallout from the humiliating defeat of the Tipperary hurlers in the All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final in Croke Park on Sunday, has continued with a vengeance this week across the Premier County with players and management being subjected to unprecedented levels of unwarranted personal attack and abuse from members of the public.
Social media such as Twitter and Facebook, websites, the national press, radio and TV, have all been on fire since Sunday evening with supporters venting their anger at the nature of the massacre at the hands of neighbours Kilkenny. And, many of the comments have gone way beyond the accepted norm - a reflection of the level of bile and ire present amongst Tipp supporters - and have been rather irrational, to say the least.
And, as the state of shock at the performance gives way to fury, it seems almost certain that there will be a change of management with Declan Ryan, Michael Gleeson and Tommy Dunne almost certain not be reinstated following the conclusion of their two year term.
In a county where All-Ireland medals is the real GAA currency, the back-to-back provincial crowns annexed by the Tipp team under the triumvirate won’t be enough to persuade the County Board to extend the term, The Tipperary Star understands. With that in mind, speculation is already rife throughout Tipperary as to who will take over the reins for the 2013 season - Liam Sheedy, Nicky English and Ken Hogan are being touted as the front runners at the time of going to press. County Board officials will sit down with the management team today, Wednesday, it has been confirmed to us.
There has been very sharp criticism indeed of the management and the tactics employed on Sunday, especially the attempt to have 2010 Hurler of the Year, Lar Corbett, man-mark Kilkenny wing back Tommy Walsh. The whole episode turned into a major farce and left Tipperary with egg on the face, to say the least. It attracted a very firm riposte from national commentators and was described as being “ at best bizarre”.
But, in fairness to the management they came out, held the hands up and admitted that they got it badly wrong. They had tried something different and it backfired, spectacularly so unfortunately. Their admissions though have not spared them and the players from very abusive messages on Twitter and Facebook. They also came in for very sharp comments from former Manager Michael Babs Keating who was quoted in The Sun newspaper on Monday.
The Tipperary Star too has been inundated with calls and letters from GAA followers venting their anger. But, in the interest of fairness and balance it should also be remembered that the players, management and backroom team have invested more time and effort into the cause that anybody else. They are the ones hurting most this week as their dream or reaching the All-Ireland Final crashed and burned so spectacularly.
County PRO Ger Ryan used his GAA Scene column in The Tipperary Stat to defend the players and management and was critical of the personalised attacks on players which he described as “ill-informed.”
The defeat, he says, “has been hugely disappointing to all Tipperary people and none more so than the players, management and County Board. Criticism in the aftermath of such a defeat is expected and understandable and a necessary part of preparing for next season. However, some of the personalised and ill-informed attacks in the print, voice and online media are simply unfair, unacceptable and unwarranted.
“No Tipperary player or member of the management team prepared as hard as they did all year with a view to a performance as disappointing as that which took place last Sunday. There has also been much support and sympathy for players and management along with constructive criticism and we would like to thank all those who have provided genuine support to the team during the 2012 season. It is greatly appreciated in a week such as this.
“Blaming any one individual or group is not going to achieve much and it is now important for everybody involved to look honestly and openly at how improvement can be achieved for next year. That is best done after calm reflection and by bearing in mind that our players and management team are amateurs who give generously of their time and ability and who all have brought great success to the county in various different ways over the years. We thank them all for their contribution during 2012. We also thank their families whose support for our management and players is unstinting despite the sacrifices required to have a family member involved in senior inter-county teams,” Ger Ryan wrote.
On a more positive note though, the Tipp minors and intermediates continue their preparations for their All-Ireland Finals which take place on September 9th and 1st respectively. The minors will take on Galway in Croke Park and the intermediates will play Kilkenny, probably in Portlaoise ( not confirmed at the time of going to press).
There is also extensive club action in the county this weekend to help distract somewhat from the events of last Sunday.