As the Tipperary post-mortem begins this morning after their shock drubbing at the hands of Galway in yesterday’s National Hurling League final, Michael Ryan and his backroom team will need answers, and quickly.
Tipp are set to take on Cork in the Munster championship in only four weeks, May 21st in Thurles. After yesterday’s 16-point defeat to the Tribesmen sent the hurling landscape into shockwave, the All-Ireland champions will have woken up this morning fully aware that if they are to successfully retain their Liam McCarthy Cup, based on yesterday’s display, a lot of work must be put in between now and the championship throw-in.
The general narrative since last September has been that Michael Ryan has kept his players’ feet on the ground, not allowing them to get too carried away with celebrating their All-Ireland triumph as was adjudged to have happened after the county’s 2010 success in halting Kilkenny’s ‘drive for five’. Ryan made no secret of the fact he was keen to lay down a marker that the Premier were a force to be reckoned with again this term by clinching a national league title en route to a dominating All-Ireland defence.
While failing to win the league yesterday, supporters of Ryan’s charges will hardly remember yesterday’s abysmal performance or result come September if they do go on to complete their first back-to-back All-Ireland wins since 1964-65. However, it is that – the abysmal performance – that will most worry the Tipp boss as he looks ahead to setting out his championship stall.
Left scratching his head after what went wrong for his team in Limerick yesterday afternoon, Ryan will go back to the drawing board after what was certainly his players worst performance since he took over the bainisteoir bib for the 2016 season.
The Upperchurch-Drombane clubman went on to suggest perhaps the strains of playing against tough opposition week in, week out in Division 1A are too much. That theory is supported by the fact that the last three winners of the Allianz hurling league have come from the second tier, 1B – Waterford, Clare, and now Galway.
Speaking to RTÉ Sport after the game yesterday, Ryan pondered:
“I can’t explain where it all went wrong.
“That was a complete non-show from us, to be honest. We certainly weren’t prepared for that kind of a game – we weren’t prepared for any kind of a game with that kind of a performance.
“It was all Galway out there, from start to finish.
“We just didn’t ever seem to get out of the blocks. I’ll need to study the video but from what I saw, we struggled in several places.
“It’s been a hectic ten weeks with eight very competitive games in that period and it seems to have taken a toll.
“This is the third year in a row (the winners) have come from Division 1B. It can’t be a coincidence.”
Ahead of their championship opener against the Rebels, the 47-year-old is eager to put right yesterday’s no-show and acknowledges the vast work that must be done to improve on that showing.
“They (Cork) certainly won’t be talked up.
“If we play like we did today we’ll make nobody pay. We’ve got four weeks to work and we have plenty to do at home.”