Tipperary’s senior hurlers had their last outing of the calendar year in Clonmel on Saturday afternoon last in a game with Wexford which will have achieved little in trying to decide if trialled players will make the cut.
Wind and rain lashed the Sportsfield and made conditions for hurling very diffiuclt indeed, especially in the first half when the Gods didn’t smile at all.
Tipp had hurled into the teeth of the breeze in this half and it was probably telling that they led by 0-8 to 1-3 - the eight scores to four being a more accurate assessment of proceedings than the score tally.
Tipp had 0-6 on the board in the first 20 minutes but had also seen two goal chances going abegging, while Wexford too missed a gilt edged goal opportunity.
Tipps first half scores came courtesy of Stephen O’Brien, Tadgh Gallagher (4), Denis Maher (2) and Seamus Kennedy, while Ian Byrne bagged a nice point for the visitors.
Wexford enjoyed more possession before the break and they added Barry Carton and Eanna Martin points before Podge Doran smashed home a goal after a ball broke down in the square.
The exchanges had been competitive and brisk and the determination from both sides was admirable, considering the conditions. This continued in the second half, but Tipp upped the ante after Wexford had rallied early on to take the lead.
Three points without reply from Jack Guiney, Rhys Clarke and Ian Byrne shoved Wexford into the lead for the first and only time. They were beginning to turn the screw, but Tipp were not long about regaining control with Patrick Maher, on at midfield at the break, making an impression.
Cathal Barrett fired over a huge long range point to level the game and Tipp went on to hit five without replay en-route to victory - Patrick Maher getting 0-2, Tadgh Gallagher and a lovely score from Liam McGratb completing the sequence.
Tipp were back in the driving seat and they finished out the game with a brace from David Collins, one eachfrom Conor Kenny and Shane Bourke , while Guiney (2) and Podge Doran completed Wexfords total.
It’s doubtful that any Tipperary players skill level will be judged on Saturday’s affair. But, the management team can be well pleased with the level of application from the players. They went about their business in an honest and sincere fashion and the performances of the likes of Patrick Maher, Cathal Barrett, Denis Maher, Tadgh Gallagher and Tom Treacy were noteworthy. James Barry too did well at centre back while David Collins finished very strongly and Shane Bourke seemed to enjoy the freedom on midfield , rather than being clammed up in the corner forward position.
So, how many of the sixteen players used will see championship action in 2014? Well, only four have done so already and whether or not any of the remaining twelve make the step up, remains to be seen. Going on Saturday’s evidence though, there are plenty of guys willing to put the hand up for a place. And, there are plenty more waiting in the sidelines as well.
Tipperary closed the book on 2013 as they prepare write the 2014 chapter. There is an air of optimism in the county - an optimism that is more realistic than at this time last year, whenit was perhaps felt that the Eamonn O’Shea factor would bring instant success - a return to the glory days of 2010. That expectation has been tempered now and Tipp realise the challenge with All-Ireland champions Clare, finalists Cork, Munster champions Limerick, and the always dangerous Waterford in Munster alone to be dealt with.
Roll on 2014.
Teams and Scorers:
Tipperary: D Gleeson, C Barrett 0-1, M Cahill, T Treacy, K Bergin, J Barry, C O’Brien, S Kennedy 0-1, S Bourke 0-1, D Maher 0-2, D Collins 0-2, C Kenny 0-1, L McGrath 0-1, S O’Brien 0-1, T Gallagher 0-6. Subs: Patrick Maher 0-2.
Wexford: M Fanning, B Jordon, A Shore, C O’Shaughnessy, R Kehoe, E Quigley, J Tonks, L Chin, E Martin 0-1, B Carton, S Tomkins, I Byrne 0-2, P Morris, P Doran 1-1, C McDonald. Subs: J Guiney 0-3; L McGovern; R Clarke 0-1; E Kent; K Foley.