Tipperary did just enough on Sunday afternoon to avoid a potentially damaging relegation play-off and, happily, also booked a quarter-final date with Cork thanks a three-point win over a disgusted Dublin team on Sunday.
Tipperary went into the game requiring a three-point win to condemn Dublin to a relegation play-off against Waterford, a three-point win which relied on a Niall McMorrow shot dropping short in second half injury time.
In the aftermath of a win, which saw Tipperary fight back from six points down, manager Eamon O’Shea was sensible enough to offer a little perspective.
“I wouldn’t go overboard about how good today was,” Eamon O’Shea told the Tipperary Star.
“Today was a day when we managed to get a three-point win after a poor start. We worked really hard and that’s about it.”
And, now Tipperary have a league quarter-final to look forward to against Cork.
“Yeah, it’s good,” Eamon O’Shea said.
“It will be another game for us and it will allow us to play two or three new players that I want to see on the pitch. We have had to rush a few players in the league which I regret. They are young players and they will come really good again. You have the likes of Tomás Hamill, who is an absolutely solid player, and I rushed him a little bit. I thought James Barry was very good when he came in. I think if we can manage the resources that we have and get four or five players back that have been injured we will be in a positive frame of mind. We are far from the finished article here.”
Eamon O’Shea revealed that the rehabilitation of players like Gearóid Ryan and Lar Corbett from injury was progressing, but also made the point that his players have been working incredibly hard in training.
“Our performances were not good. I am not trying to take away from the common perception which is right. We just couldn’t seem to get rhythm in our play. Last week in Galway I was annoyed that we didn’t really play to our potential. We have had two or three weeks of really good training and really good work. I just congratulated the thirty guys in there who really worked hard down on the training pitch,” Eamon O’Shea explained.
“They really are capable of a lot; they are really fine hurlers. Sometimes I think that Tipp are a team that have to have rhythm. It’s no surprise to me that almost all the teams put out seven or eight defenders against Tipperary; that’s what I would do if I was playing against Tipperary. We have to just find our way around that. By the time the championship comes I think we will have found one or two things in terms of finding a way around that. Teams set up really defensively against us and I don’t blame them. We have to work our way through that. We just have to work hard to become a better team.”
Eamon O’Shea was also eager to point out that he expected the touch of his players to improve significantly in the coming weeks.
“Confidence and touch are related,” Eamon O’Shea said.
“You probably will see an improvement when we start to train under the light now in terms of touch. We have a bit of work to do. We have been doing a lot of stamina work. We are trying to get it right. It doesn’t always work, but we are trying to get it right. And, today we got over the line.”
Reacting to the result Dublin manager Anthony Daly was eager to focus his attention on his side’s up-coming relegation play-off against Waterford.
“We just have to take it on the chin and get ready for next week because it is an even bigger game than a league quarter-final. We have got to prepare ourselves. Waterford have beaten us already. So, we have got to get the heads up now and get ready for it,” Anthony Daly told the Tipperary Star.
“We played some great stuff in the first half and to tell you the truth I am really looking forward to the championship after watching them boys hurl out there. We haven’t that much ball work done to be honest with you. We will get better, our touch will get better and our handling will get better. I think we have an awful lot to look forward to and we will take the positives out of it. It is disappointing and fellas will have to lift their heads, but we will lift them. We have lifted them before and we will do it again.”
Meanwhile Tipperary’s Noel McGrath was delighted to hear roars of encouragement rolling down from the Ó Riain Stand once more.
“It’s nice to have a backing like that and having the crowd row in behind you like that gives you that extra boost and you get that extra bit of energy,” Noel McGrath told the Tipperary Star.
“I suppose there have been a few criticisms of us during the last few weeks and we just wanted to put that straight today. I think we showed out there that there is serious character there and serious drive there. We have a long ways to go yet. We have a lot of work to do, but today is the start of it and we hope to drive on from here,” Noel McGrath explained.
“For the last few weeks things have been going against us here and there. We never panicked. We have serious players and serious defenders there. The lads kept plugging away on every Tuesday and Thursday and we were just hoping that it would come right one weekend. And, this week it did. We hope to kick on from here.”
Noel McGrath also had a special word of praise from Drom & Inch’s Séamus Callanan who hit 0-11 against Dublin and also initiated the move which culminated in Patrick Maher’s vital goal.
“I think Séamie (Callanan) has been good right throughout the whole league,” Noel McGrath said.
“Down in Kilkenny he was very good and again today. He has really been carrying us up in the forwards by putting in serious performances, but everyone is putting in massive work and hopefully we can have a long year ahead.”