Tipperary booked their place in the Allianz National Hurling League final against Kilkenny thanks to a seven-point win over Clare at Páirc na nGael in Limerick on Sunday - Semple Stadium, Thurles will host the league final on Sunday, May 4th at 3.30pm.
In the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s victory over the All-Ireland champions manager Eamon O’Shea was eager to praise the spirit of his players - twice during the final ten minutes Clare closed the gap to three points, but Tipperary responded in emphatic terms to that challenge.
“I think we showed great spirit,” Eamon O’Shea told the Tipperary Star.
“One of the good things from the league was that we never capitulated in any game. We never gave up the fight. What I saw out there today was a team that was strong and a team that are strong in themselves. The hurling might not have been great at times and I would have been disappointed with that, but I thought we had a good spirit.”
A 20,452-strong attendance saw Clare ‘keeper Dónal Tuohy pull off a string of fine saves, but, according to Eamon O’Shea, Tipperary did not go out aiming specifically to score goals.
“We didn’t consciously set out to go for goals,” Eamon O’Shea said.
“We set out to try to play the game as we saw it. I thought it was a good battle. I don’t think either team were at their best today to be honest with you. In the same way that I cautioned you when we were losing games I would caution you equally when we are winning games. There is a lot of work to be done yet. We have been working hard to get our levels up. Our level was up today, but it wasn’t up enough to be honest.”
It was noticeable, however, that Tipperary’s touch and combination play has improved in recent weeks.
“Yes, it has developed over the last few weeks,” admitted Eamon O’Shea.
“I wouldn’t be going mad about it, but it certainly has developed. It’s very early in the year to know how the patterns of the games will go.
“All you had today was a good game. I wouldn’t still be happy with the speed of our hurling. Technically, if you were looking at it that way, I would not be happy.”
The thoughts of the Tipperary players now turn to facing Kilkenny.
“It seems strange to be in a National League final after the slow start that we made, but the most important thing is the spirit that we are consistently showing in our games.
“One of the things that people did not realise was that when we were losing games the team never capitulated. Our hurling was not good, but in all the games that we played we stayed at the game.
“We are nowhere near where we want to be in terms of our hurling. It is a little bit slow and I was not happy,” Eamon O’Shea added.
“It’s good to get another match. We will look forward to it. The games are what matter. We train too much and we play too little. The more games the better.”