Home GAA Hurling: Significant Room To Improve For Tipperary

Hurling: Significant Room To Improve For Tipperary

Tipperary showed a side we haven’t seen too many times before from them. Although, they weren’t at their best, they battled hard and dug out the win against Galway at Croke Park yesterday.

Tipperary were nowhere near their best yesterday at Croke Park and were in many ways, very lucky to come out of Croke Park with a win.

The game swung in Tipp’s favour just before half-time when they were given a huge advantage. Adrian Tuohy, who was having a superb game at the back, dislocated his elbow while leader and top marksman Joe Canning, suffered a hamstring injury. Both players did not return to the field of play for the second-half.

This left Galway with limited resources and without the presence of Canning up front, Galway lost their shape. It was only the Cooney’s who performed for the Tribesmen up top. Conor Whelan, Jason Flynn and Cathal Mannion in particular, simply didn’t show up for Micheal Donoghue’s side. Between Whelan, Flynn and Mannion, they got three points from play.

Leinster GAA Senior Hurling Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 3/7/2016 Kilkenny vs Galway Cathal Mannion of Galway Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

In last year’s semi-final, the aforementioned trio got a total of eleven points from play between them. Galway’s forwards were poor but in many ways, they could and arguably should have still won the contest. Tipp weren’t great but they dig out the victory and that’s what will please their boss Michael Ryan the most.

Tipp’s proven track record of losing close encounters in big games had many doubting the team’s mental strength but yesterday, with the help of the strong impact from the bench, the Premier county escaped from Croke Park with a one-point victory.

The performance of Seamus Callanan was hugely disappointing. The Drom and Inch man didn’t score from play. However, it proved that Tipp’s other players are capable of stepping up to the mark when needed. Noel and John McGrath fired over 1-4 between them while Michael Breen chipped in with three points from midfield.

Andrew Smith with Noel McGrath 14/8/2016

John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer’s impact from the bench was significant as the Killenaule man netted a crucial goal for the Premier. However, the lack of scores from Dan McCormack, Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher and Niall O’Meara will be of concern to Michael Ryan.

Having three starting forwards who don’t score from play will not beat Kilkenny. McCormack and Bonner’s work-rate cannot be questioned but their ability to score can and Tipp will know they will have to get a higher return from their six forwards the next day against Kilkenny.

Tipperary’s scope for improvement is massive and their performance will need to be significantly raised come the first Sunday in September. Kilkenny’s performance against Waterford was better than Tipperary’s was against Galway and the Cats will be favoured to claim Liam once again.

However, with Tipperary, they have the potential to beat Kilkenny. With a few small changes, unfulfilled potential over the last few years can bear fruit in the cauldron of Croke Park in three weeks time.

John O'Dwyer celebrates his goal 14/8/2016

Tipperary are arguably better than Kilkenny on paper but as Michael Ryan said, Brian Cody’s men are the “masters of intensity”. It will be up to Tipp to match their intensity and aggression and attempt to dictate the play and play the game on their terms. This is easier said than done, but Tipperary certainly have the potential to deliver.

The room for improvement is huge within this team. The critical thing is that Michael Ryan’s men improve and play to their maximum potential. If they can do that, they have every chance of beating the Cats.

Roll on the 4th of September.

Seán Ó Murchú, Pundit Arena

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