Liam Sheedy was quick to downplay the significance of his side’s seven-point win against Cork in the Munster hurling championship last weekend, and wisely so.
“It’s two points in the bank, nothing more. Two points won’t get you anywhere in this championship. One performance won’t get you out.”
Managing expectations will be high on his list of priorities following that win, Tipperary have been burned too many times before by false hope.
Many have already shrugged off his words and spread whispers of the Premier men being potential All Ireland contenders, but in truth, when you’re basing that on one championship performance, it’s nonsensical and not worth listening to. Especially when those same people were questioning the character of Tipperary less than a week earlier.
In reality, there is a high chance of a wounded Waterford catching Tipperary in Semple Stadium on Sunday and all of a sudden, the potential All Ireland winners will be fighting for their lives in Munster and the whispers will die away as quickly as they started.
It’s both the most enjoyable and the most frustrating aspect of this Munster Championship structure. We could write paragraphs upon paragraphs of predictions here but what’s the point? The championship is so unpredictable that we would spend the next week backtracking and the cycle would start again.
As it stands, Tipperary and Clare both lie on two points in the table with Waterford and Cork bringing up the rear – Limerick have yet to play. There’s no denying that Clare and Tipp have left themselves in an advantageous position, just look at how Tipp’s season went last year when they lost their opener, but there are still three rounds to play. Any talk of Cork’s season being on a knife-edge or Tipperary heading straight for a provincial decider is far too premature.
Don’t get me wrong, Cork have left themselves with a mountain to climb considering they now travel to the home of the All Ireland champions seven days after their loss, but let’s not forget that this is a team who have won the last two Munster Championship titles and regardless of what some people believe, that is still a major trophy to win.
Even though many of their players are relatively young, they still have the experience of the hurt from the 2017 and 2018 All Ireland semi-finals, and they will use that pain to give themselves the best possible chance of eradicating it in 2019.
As for Waterford, they’ve been around the block enough times to know not to panic. Yes, the narrative before last Sunday’s game was that they needed to make a statement at home in Walsh Park given their grand championship return there but in truth, the size and restrictions of the pitch don’t suit the style of play they’re currently trying to impose.
They were written off after their opener in 2018 and it only motivated them to blow Tipperary out of the water in the first half of their game and only for a controversial goal decision, their season would have looked a lot different.
Naturally, they will be disappointed with last week’s result but what better way to make a statement than to go to the home of the top performers from week one and get a result? That would certainly silence the critics, if only for another week.
The Munster hurling final is set for June 30th. Six weeks away. There’s a lot of hurling to be done between now and then.
Whether they won last week or not is irrelevant. Every team is fighting for their survival every weekend they go out, such is the nature of this championship.
“This is a phenomenal championship, it’s the best championship around. Whatever three teams come out on top are going to have earned it”, Sheedy continued.
That’s the only safe bet in this province.