Manager Michael Ryan was concerned about a potential Séamus Callanan injury.
Tipperary senior hurling manager looked drained when he faced the assembled press corps following Saturday’s dramatic All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship quarter-final win over Clare at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork. Indeed, the Upperchurch-Drombane man revealed that he was relieved to see his side go through the semi-finals.
“We came here to try and win this match and get into a semi-final and from that perspective it is mission accomplished,” Michael Ryan explained.
“Even when we got off to a reasonably good start there in the first half Clare hit us with two super goals - really, really well-taken goals. They showed us exactly the kind of ability that they have got in that squad, but, look, I was very happy with our fellas too. We were doing lots of things well,” the Tipperary senior hurling manager said before his thoughts turned to the closing minutes of this contest when Clare narrowed the gap to a single point before the All-Ireland champions surged clear to register a 0-28 to 3-16 win.
“I thought we got into the game from the off. We put up an overall decent tally of points. But, look, the overriding feeling here is total relief to have got through. Clare got six unanswered points in-a-row, had the gap down to one and that was the tipping point of the game. Thankfully it just tipped back in our favour. So, we are delighted,” Michael Ryan said.
“Look, it was anything bar comfortable - six points in-a-row to take it down to one point and all the momentum with Clare, but that is the quality of that Clare side. I think they really served it up there today and we are really happy to have come out on the right side of it,” the Upperchurch-Drombane man admitted.
Aaron Cunningham fired home Clare goals in the 19th and 20th minutes to reel Tipperary in (0-9 to 2-3). In both instances Clare pieced together some exceptional attacking moves, but those three-pointers also reflected on the Premier County’s full-back line.
“I think it was a bit if both to be honest,” Michael Ryan explained.
“You have got to credit the forwards here too - the second goal in particular was a super catch by Shane O’Donnell. And, once you are in control of the sliotar you have the advantage on your man. By the time Shane (O’Donnell) came down - he is very fleet-footed - he turned in immediately and off-loaded it before it was finished. They were quality goals.
“Does it test the full-back line? Absolutely it does. And, it rattles - it rattles you. There is great credit due to those defenders because you have got to pick yourself up. It is not nice to be taken for a goal and to be taken for two in the first half certainly was not in our script,” Michael Ryan added.
Tipperary manager Michael Ryan was eager to highlight the work rate of his side following Saturday’s win over Clare. Players like Dan McCormack, Brendan Maher and Patrick Maher contributed hugely to the defensive effort. Indeed, Michael Ryan insisted that such a high work rate was a pre-requisite in a do-or-die championship game.
“It had to be - this was end-game; for whoever lost today their season was over and nobody wants their season to be over in July. So, the prize was massive. The work-rate was very good, even at the end when the third goal was conceded - the boys were out on their feet. There was some heroic defending. I think both teams deserve huge, huge credit - it was a really good game of hurling,” Michael Ryan explained.
Even when this contest appeared to be getting away from Tipperary and their lead whittled down to a single point with five minutes of normal time remaining the players fought back with a Pádraic Maher grab in the 70th minute illustrating the determination of the Premier County players to defend their All-Ireland crown to the very best of their ability. Brendan Maher, of course, drilled over the resultant free won by his captain from ninety yards plus.
“Those are precious shots and it takes really good players to do that. Brendan has been plying his trade here with us for years and I do not think it would have surprised any of us that he would have the courage to look for that ball to take it,” Michael Ryan revealed.
“I am very proud of that bunch of players. We are arriving at the right tempo for the All-Ireland series just now. We will have very sore bodies - we will regroup during the week and then make a plan for our next opponents. We will have to wait to see who wins on Sunday first,” Ryan added.
Following the game Michael Ryan was concerned about a potential Séamus Callanan injury. Callanan was replaced in the 71st minute - the Drom & Inch shipped a blow to his fingers, but is expected to make a speedy recovery from the knock.
“Séamus Callanan has ice on his elbow, to be honest after that I do not know,” Michael Ryan said.
“The initial news I got on the sideline was that his fingers were in trouble - does that mean broke, I honestly do not know. The medics will be all over it. We will know for sure within twenty-four hours.”