By Noel Dundon
A bad year for Tipp alright. So bad in fact, that in excess of 300 souls packed into the fabulous Dome at Semple Stadium on Sunday evening last for the presentation of more than 300 medals to Tipperary hurlers and footballers for 2012 - seven competitions won by the Premier County in a season that has been described as being ‘best forgotten” ??
As with a lot of GAA scenarios though, the yardstick is how the seniors have fared. And, though Tipperary brought home Munster minor hurling and football titles; All-Ireland minor hurling title; Munster intermediate and senior hurling titles; All-Ireland intermediate hurling title; and the Waterford Crystal Cup; the season ultimately is judged, by many, on how the seniors fared in competition.
It wasn’t enough that Tipperary managed to put back-to-back Munster senior titles together in the hurling code; or that the senior footballers had their best run in the championship in many a year. No, for many, Tipperary’s season was defined by events in Croke Park on All-Ireland semi-final day against Kilkenny. Agreed, those events are probably ‘best forgotten’ alright, but with a proud tradition and determination to celebrate success, Tipperary feted it’s heroes and decided 2012 was not such a bad year after all.
Many a county would relish the chance to present medals of any description - in Tipperary, the County Board went all out to honour it’s teams and hosted the most lavish and spectacular event The Dome has seen since it’s construction a few years ago.
Looking splendid, this wonderful asset, had been decorated tastefully under the watchful eyes of County PRO Ger Ryan and County Secretary Timmy Floyd to ensure that it came up to scratch. And, former All-Ireland winning captain Declan Carr (Holycross Ballycahill) ,and his wife Niamh, led their team to great success in the catering stakes with the multitudes being treated to a splendid hot meal - the first time such a sizeable attendance had been fed and watered in The Dome. Certainly, the venue has proven itself to be a very viable alternative for such events with the catering and comfort second to none. It was a curious twist for many of the players though who had suffered and hurt throughout the season, and will do again, in training in The Dome, to be enjoying such a cordial, social occasion in the same venue.
Munster Council Vice-Chairman, Robert Frost(Clare) was the guest on the night and also present was Archbishop Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, and Patron of the GAA. County Board President Tomas O’Baroid,Vice-President Michael Maher, and Munster Council PRO Ed Donnelly were there too. They were joined by all of the Tipperary Board officers, County Football Board, members of the supporters clubs, players and their guests, team officials and backroom personnel, divisional Board officers and media representatives.
The evening was hosted wonderfully by PRO Ger Ryan with video footage and photographic exhibitions helping to set the celebratory mood. And, celebrate they did. Who could blame Tipperary for toasting their success and for looking forward? It was the second last day of the year after all and what better time to look back and forward to see where The Premier County is at.
Chairman Sean Nugent referred to the event being Tipperary’s version of ‘The Gathering” and he referred to the table of silverware adorning the Dome as being representative of “dedication, determination, discipline to training and excellence.” It also represented the spirit of volunteerism, he said, and in referring to the negative reaction of many to the season, the Kilsheelan Kilcash man pointed out that people are very quick to forget the ‘famine years’ when Tipperary could not win any games, never mind have a table of silverware to boast.
“Tonight is a major call - a call to all our players, young and old alike, to rise to the challenge we face, both on and off the field in 2013. I know that you will all rise to that challenge as well,” he said.
Robert Frost addressed the attendance and congratulated Tipperary on achieving so much success on and off the field of play. He paid particular tribute to the parents of the minor hurlers and footballers for their efforts in ensuring that the players got to training and matches on time.
“You have contributed much to the sport and you are to be commended and congratulated as well,” he said - sentiments which were echoed by minor Manager William Maher when he spoke also.
Indeed, William Maher and Mick Ryan, the intermediate hurling Manager, spoke on the night and were lavish in their praise for the Board and the backroom teams who have done much to progress Tipperary in 2012. Already, plans are in train for 2013, they promised, when the panels will pick up the baton and attempt to carry it on again.
Roll on the action for the new year.