By Brian McDonnell
MANAGER Declan Ryan believes that his Tipperary team have plenty to work on if they are to present Kilkenny with a robust challenge on Sunday, September 4.
“All our focus had been on Dublin up to this, but I’m sure it will be a huge battle,” manager Declan Ryan said when he asked to consider Tipp’s forthcoming clash with Brian Cody’s Kilkenny.
“I suppose there has been a good history between Kilkenny and Tipp over the last few years and I’m sure the final will be no different.
“Again, it will be a massive battle and like today it will be a very physical game. Both teams know each other reasonably well at this stage.
“I think there’s plenty to work on over the next couple of weeks.”
The physical challenge presented by Anthony Daly’s Dublin bordered on the ferocious, a challenge Declan Ryan regarded as the toughest test faced by Tipperary this year.
“Absolutely, we would not expect anything less from a team prepared by Anthony Daly,” Declan Ryan said.
“He was a physical player in his own day and I think Dublin showed that not only are they a physical team, but they are also a very competitive team.
“They are well able to hurl as well, they got some lovely points out there so full credit to Dublin for their performance today. They were very, very tough.”
Declan Ryan also dismissed suggestions that any semblance of complacency had seeped into the Tipperary dressingroom.
“We came up expecting a tough battle,” Declan Ryan insisted.
“We knew that Dublin had beaten us in our last two competitive fixtures so we were not going to expect anything else than a physical battle and that’s the way the game materialised,” Declan Ryan said.
“I was delighted with the way our boys showed a bit of character there.
“They stuck to their guns and won a few battles. I was just delighted that the guys showed the character that they have.”
Ryan also dismissed suggestions that loose talk of a potential Tipperary-Kilkenny final had affected the team’s preparations.
“We were not talking about anything in the camp before today only the Dublin game,” Ryan insisted.
“Now there was probably a lot of talk outside of the camp and that can have some influence, but I don’t think you could take anything away from Dublin today.
“Their attitude, their performance and their commitment to the game today was savage and they are going to be around for a while I think.”
Declan Ryan also said that both Kilkenny and Tipp have plenty of work to do in preparation for next month’s All-Ireland final.
“I don’t think Kilkenny will be worried by anything they saw out there today,” Declan Ryan said.
“It was probably a dour enough game at times.
“It was very physical, there were a lot of physical exchanges out there and I suppose there were a good number of frees scored and that kind of thing.
“I think both teams, Kilkenny and Tipp, have a good bit to do over the next three weeks.”
“I don’t think so, no,” Declan Ryan said when asked if he thought the five-week break following the Munster final against Waterford had hampered his team’s preparation.
“We were saying before the game that we thought it was a positive, that it gave us a chance to enjoy the Munster final for a few days and that it would give you enough time to forget about it before the semi-final,” Declan Ryan added.
“I suppose we did not look as sharp today as we had before the Munster final, but you are playing at a higher level the longer the year goes on and that proved to be the case today.”
Declan Ryan also took some time to pay tribute to goalkeeper Brendan Cummins who played his 66th championship game for Tipperary to become the most-capped player of all time - Cummins exceeded Christy Ring’s record of 65 on Sunday.
“It’s phenomenal, incredible,” Declan Ryan said.
“He’s still probably one of the fittest guys playing out there today and he’s still very quick.
“It’s just an incredible achievement with the time and the effort that’s involved.
“He’s a married man now with kids and that so it’s incredible really.”
Dublin manager Anthony Daly was left heart-broken when referee Cathal McAllister blew his final whistle on Sunday in Croke Park. His Dublin team had thrown everything they had at Tipperary, but just come up agonisingly short.
“Very disappointed, but proud as well - disappointed to come so close and not to get there, but awful proud of the boys as well. To a man they stuck to their task,” Anthony Daly said.
“It was probably a bit of poor decision-making at times that probably cost us. They were probably that bit more economical, especially with the early goal.”
The former Clare captain and manager was obviously annoyed by the tone of the media coverage during the preamble to Sunday’s game.
“Some fellas were giving us no chance at all. You know we were Walsh Cup champions and National League champions coming into this and there was great pride in the boys,”Anthony Daly said.
“The only day that we didn’t perform this year was in the Leinster final and we were very disappointed that evening.
“We promised ourselves that we would perform today and I certainly think that we did that on the day. But near misses are hard enough to take.
“It’s hard to add it all up in the few minutes after it. It’s hard to put ten and ten together and get twenty-one or whatever.
“We did win so many personal battles and so many fellas had great games that you would expect to win, but they were clinical at times and we just took the wrong option at times.”