‘Job done but lots to do’ was the message from Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy following their 2-25 to 1-18 win over Laois in the All Ireland quarter-final on Sunday afternoon.
The scoreline wasn’t an accurate reflection of how difficult Laois made life difficult for the Premier County in Croke Park. It wasn’t until a Jason Forde penalty in the 11th minute that Tipperary settled into the game and Sheedy’s side were highly reliant on the Silvermines man who finished the day with a tally of 1-12.
The Tipperary manager was quick to acknowledge that his side’s performance was poor at times but maintains that Laois were underestimated going into the clash, despite their heroic win over Dublin last weekend.
“A lot of people all week were saying ‘you only have to turn up’ so that’s always a dangerous place to be. Eddie [Brennan] has that team playing really well, Laois have a great spirit about them and we saw that last Sunday and we saw it again today.
“We have managed to cross the line and get into the last four and that was our ambition coming up here today. We had some really good patches of play, picked off some really nice scores but that level of performance wouldn’t be enough to take us any further.
“The talk all week was like Laois weren’t in the championship and that is difficult because I know Eddie, I’ve seen Laois and the way they played last Sunday was admirable. They’ve great energy and they’re well-coached with himself and Niall Corcoran. We played second fiddle in a lot of sectors of that game and there was parts of their play that we had no answer to. So that’s a concern but we did rack up a really good score in 2-25.
“It’s mission accomplished. In these matches, you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t but for us, it was just about getting through and finding ourselves in the last four.”
Laois were dealt a huge blow early in the second half when Aaron Dunphy saw red for an off-the-ball strike on Padraic Maher while referee Colm Lyons was kept busy for the entire game.
Tipperary, for their part, conceded 14 frees, 11 of which were pointed by their sharpshooter Mark Kavanagh. Sheedy admits that their poor discipline record has been a hindrance throughout the championship and will need to change.
“If I look at my trends in the Munster Championship, it’s a similar trend. Mark Kavanagh was un-erring from frees, he’s a really good striker of the ball. You’re not going to survive against top-level opposition if you concede that many frees so that’s certainly an area to work on.”
“We’ve a few areas to work on but we’ve a lot of positives to pull from today as well. We’ll get back on the training pitch and this is the two weeks we’re looking forward to, building up to an All Ireland semi-final.”
Tipperary now have two weeks to prepare for their All Ireland semi-final meeting with Leinster champions Wexford, the only team to remain unbeaten in the championship.
Despite their four wins in Munster, Sheedy insists that Wexford will be hot favourites to reach the All Ireland final given Tipperary’s displays in their last two outings against Laois and Limerick in the provincial final.
“I’m a realist, that level of performance won’t be enough. Wexford will probably go in raging hot favourites based on their performances this year, they’re unbeaten to date but certainly we know that there’s a better level than what we showed today.
“We got through today but if we are to be competitive on Sunday week, we need to find a level beyond today.
“But that’s what sport is all about. We’re delighted to get the opportunity to come up and play in an All Ireland semi-final.”