There were serious questions about this Tipperary side going into their Munster Senior Championship opener against Cork in Pairc Ui Chaoimh today.
Given their early championship exit in 2018 and their mixed performances in the league, it was hard to gauge how this team compared to their other Munster counterparts. Questions were also asked about their older contingent, the heroes of 2010, and whether or not they could still produce the goods for Tipperary.
That contingent certainly answered that question today – Brendan Maher, Noel McGrath, Seamus Callanan and Padraic Maher in particular.
Callanan finished his day with 1-4, McGrath dominated the midfield and scored a tally of four points while Padraic and Brendan both grabbed scores from the half-back line.
Their performances came as no surprise to Liam Sheedy who maintained that the group were fully deserving of their starting positions.
“I’m going on what I see in training. I’ve seen them up close for months now, I’ve seen the condition they’ve got themselves in. These guys are able to play and the day someone tells me that someone is 29 years of age and is too old to play in championship hurling, that’s contrary to what I think.
“I have massive, massive competition within my panel. Some of these 21s are really good so there could be changes for next Sunday.”
“[Brendan’s] point at the end probably summed him up, fielding in the air. The Cork half-forwards really do test you but I thought that Ronan and Brendan in that second-half, the way they fielded the ball and drove forward and picked off their points was really nice to see. Although, they missed a few too so we’ll work on that next week.”
Callanan’s goal provided an early cushion for Tipperary but a mixture of snuffed chances and ill-discipline allowed Cork to trail by just one point at the break.
While a seven-point win in the home of the Munster champions was very pleasing for Sheedy, he admitted that they have plenty to work on, especially given the short turnaround until their next championship outing against Waterford next Sunday.
“We started very well, gave ourselves a few points of a cushion but our discipline in the first half cost us dearly, we gave them eight points from placed balls. I just felt that, psychologically, to go in a point up was a help.
“We got a great start to the second half, we got three or four points and built on that. I just felt John McGrath’s goal was a piece of magic the way we worked the ball up, such a smashing ball across and ball into the back of the net and it was probably hard for Cork to come back from that.
A brilliant Tipperary goal from John McGrath who was picked out by a terrific pass from John O'Dwyer. pic.twitter.com/3Of4ajex2J
— The GAA (@officialgaa) May 12, 2019
“It’s a good day at the office. These guys can play. It hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for us and we were coming down to play the team going for three-in-a-row in Munster and overall today was a really good performance. There was a lot to like about our display.
“Eleven years ago here you could take a bit of a break and then go into a Munster final, get four or five weeks off, but now we have to get ready for what’s coming next week which is Waterford in Semple Stadium which is a massive match.”
One Tipperary player who has emerged as a doubt for that game in Thurles is Niall O’Meara who limped off the field with a suspected hamstring injury in the 62nd minute.
“It’s too early to say. I thought he put in a massive, massive shift, ran from wing to wing. I’d really feel for Niall if it rules him out for next Sunday because he was really, really good today, really hot but it is too early to say, I’m afraid.”