Tipperary Manager Eamon O’Shea is briomming with anticipation as Cork come onto the horizon.
The Kilruane MacDonagh clubman was, naturally, happy with the win, but was also chomping at the bit to get back to the training field to “figure out why we were not moving the ball quicker.”
O’Shea and his management team of Paidi O’Neill and Michael Ryan concede that Tipperary are now “in with a chance” and the Manager sports a wry smile as he encourages scribes to not write his side off just yet.
“Very happy with the win and a great feeling to be in an All-Ireland semi-final. We are in with a chance now but we won’t have much of a chance if we keep hurling like that. I was happy enough with the win but I don’t think either team will be happy with the way they played. I don’t know what the match was like from ye’re perspective, but it didn’t look great to me - both teams were guilty of sloppiness at times. It was a win, a really good win and a really important win for Tipp.
“I thought we dug in and our backs were magnificent. We didn’t give away a goal which makes me very happy. They stuck to their task and we are happy with that. There was no fluidity from both sides and we like fluidity,” Eamon said.
The magnificent penalty save from Brendan Maher in 12th minute from a Paul Ryan blast was a turning point. Had they goalled, the Dubs would have been back to five down and with a bit of momentum behind them. The significance of that save was not lost on the Eamon O’Shea.
“The penalty save was a good save for us. They got a point but it might have turned a little bit differently if that had to go the other way, but you can never second guess randomness,” he said.
Tipperary had to re-shuffle the defence to allow for the vacancy created by Michael Cahill failing to recover from knee ligament damage against Offaly. And the starting defence saw Padraic Maher at wing back, James Barry at full back, and Brendan Maher at centre back, with Kieran Bergin filling in at number seven, and Cathal Barrett at number four. Indeed, Paddy Stapleton was the only defender who actually played where he was picked. So, did Tipp play a match-up card or what?
“No, we just wanted to play a particular way today and that’s the way it turned out. We don’t have any set ideas on the full back at the moment or the way we align our players. I know there is a bit of a fascination about who is number three and who is number six, but we don’t have that fascination. We have players who can play there and hopefully players coming back too. It wasn’t really match-up’s, it was just the way we wanted to play,” the Manager insisted.
And so to the challenge of facing up the Munster champions in a really mouth watering clash in Croke Park. This is a much anticipated game now considering the many classic clashes down through the decades in the provincial championship. Now, it has come to pass that the great rivals should meet in Croke Park and what an occasion it will be.
“We go in with a bit of confidence. I wouldn’t call it confidence either. We are going in with a win but we will certainly have to go back to the training pitch and figure out why we were not moving the ball quicker. If we do that we are capable. Cork are quick and strong and we would certainly have to move if quicker to stand a chance of competing. My honest assessment is that we are coming in with a lot to do to catch up. The lads are really looking forward to it. They have real intent and I wouldn’t write them off. When you see the level in them all the time and if we can manage to harness all that, we will be formidable. The trick is can we do that. Will it happen? We work really hard to try and get that right and I do feel there is something in them that hasn’t yet come out,” Eamon said.
Before wrapping up his comments, Eamon spared a thought for Dublin Manager Anthonly Daly whom he described as being his ‘outstanding Manager over the last few years’ in terms of what he has achieved. He is now out of contract and will sit down and make a decision about his and future in the coming weeks.
I would also ask for a reassessment of the Galway game in Pearse Stadium 12 weeks ago. We have played eight times, won six and my belief is that we should have won the League Final and we lost the game against Limerick in the last minute. I just think there needs to be a reassessment of that from commentators.
When you win six games, surely it can’t all be bad. The loss to LImerick was not a good result but there was a cycle where we were playing games with a range of playing well. I didn’t feel we went outside of that cycle. We didn’t play that well against Limerick - we certainly didn’t finish it. I am not saying that the assessment is completely wrong, I am just saying that you need to look at the whole thing in totality.