The Players Answered Their Critics

By Brian McDonnell at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork

ALTHOUGH manager Declan Ryan will not be eager to admit it the Clonoulty-Rossmore man must know that Tipperary’s storming victory over Cork in Sunday’s Munster semi-final could provide the platform for this team to go a very long way.

“These guys have been questioned sometimes about their commitment and their ability, but they showed today what they are about. They showed that they take a lot of pride in wearing the blue and gold. I think that game will stand us in great stead as the year goes on,” Declan Ryan said as he reflected on a single-point win, but a win earned with just 14 men for 24 minutes following John O’Brien’s dismissal.

“That (game) was a credit to both counties today, Tipp and Cork. That was real Munster championship fare there and the game could have went either way, but I think our guys showed a lot of character there and a lot of heart. I am absolutely thrilled for the players,” Declan Ryan said.

“To get out of here today with a win is a huge achievement. I think we all know that Tipp’s record down here hasn’t been great over the last 70 or 80 years so it’s a huge achievement from our guy’s point of view,” Declan Ryan added.

Noel McGrath’s goal in the 46th minute forced Tipperary into a vital lead, a goal in which Lar Corbett played a vital part.

“Yeah, a super goal; a real team goal,” Declan Ryan explained.

“I was delighted with the way Lar got the pass in there and I think it was Noel who finished it off. So, it was a real team goal. We needed it at the time. I thought there was goal or two to be got today and we only got the one, but I’m really pleased for the players and the back room team. They have put in such a huge effort particularly over the last three weeks. We have really knuckled down and I think that was shown on the field of play today.”

Last year Tipperary helped themselves to a 7-19 to 0-19 win over Waterford in a one-sided Munster final.

Manager Declan Ryan, however, will not allow anyone associated with the Tipperary jersey to take the Déise lightly this time around.

“Absolutely not,” insisted Declan Ryan.

“This is a new year now and a new Munster championship. Any day in the Munster championship it’s a fifty-fifty game.

“I’m sure Waterford will be coming with all guns blazing here on the 15th of July.

“We know that we are going to have a mighty battle again that day.”

The Tipperary manager said that he didn’t have a clear view of the 48th minute incident which saw John O’Brien sent off following a second bookable offence.

“I will have to see it again,” admitted Declan Ryan.

“I think John hit him up around the head area. I can’t remember. He was on a yellow, but the good thing about it is that he got two yellows and he will be back for the next game.”

Meanwhile Cork manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy said that “a bit of inexperience” had cost his team dearly.

“We made a huge effort, but I think a bit of inexperience counted against us in the end,” Jimmy Barry-Murphy told the Tipperary Star.

“We had opportunities, but we didn’t take them so fair play to Tipperary. They just about deserved it on the day I think.

“The disallowed goal was a major factor. We could have gone in at half-time with a five-point lead and with the breeze that we were playing with we probably needed that. But fair play to our lads, they showed great courage. They came back fantastic after going four points down. I know the extra man helped us certainly, but I thought we showed great character and I’m very pleased with the lads. In fairness I couldn’t fault any of them.”

Indeed, Barry-Murphy believes that the Rebels can now carry their form into the qualifier series.

“I think we are moving in the right direction and I hope we are. It’s just very disappointing to be beaten because I thought we had a great chance of winning here at home today. Hopefully we will learn from this and move on,” Jimmy Barry-Murphy explained.

“The qualifiers are a tough route to go. I have never been down that road before as a player or a coach so it’s new to me. Our major job will be to pick up the players after a defeat like that today which can be quite shattering. I suppose we recovered from the league final defeat so I can’t see why we can’t recover from today and move on again.”

Barry-Murphy, however, did take issue with the circumstances which led to Noel McGrath’s vital goal in the 46th minute. The Cork manager indicated that his side should have been awarded a free before Tipperary pieced together that vital goal-scoring move.

“Yes, for definite we wanted a free in because the player wasn’t gone away and I can’t believe that he didn’t give a free in, but I’m not blaming the referee,” Cork manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy said.

“These things happen, but in that situation and given the tight game that it was we would have preferred to get our free and to take our point.

“Some days it goes with you and some days it doesn’t. Tipperary took their chance brilliantly and Noel McGrath took it very clinically.

“I hope we learn from that, that when we get those opportunities that maybe we would do something similar the next time.”

And, despite almost upsetting pre-game favourites Tipperary at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday the Cork manager believes that his players require some work before they can compete at the level of Kilkenny and Tipp.

“I said when I took over this job that Kilkenny and Tipp were the landmark.

“We all know how far they have gone ahead of the rest for the last couple of years. It’s just a long road back for us to match them and we’re working very hard to try and do that,” Barry-Murphy added.