Tipperary may have been hanging on for victory over Cork in the Munster minor football semi-final at Thurles last Wednesday, but manager, Charlie McGeever was adamant afterwards that the best side won.
Tipperary had dominated the first half but kicked seven wides in the opening eighteen minutes prompting fears that they would rue those lapses later on.
These misses meant that they had only a four points lead at the break, 0-5 to 0-1, after playing with the breeze, when they should have been “out of sight”.
The Clonmel Commercials man remarked – “It would have been a travesty if we had lost. We worked hard throughout but Cork were always going to come at us. They are a big, strong, physical, hard-running team, and having seen them against Kerry our concern was conceding goals”.
McGeever had a strategy in place to counter the threat of a lethal Cork full forward line. He played wingforward Ciaran Lowry as an additional defender, sweeping in front of the fullback line, a strategy that has to be counted a success given Cork’s failure to get a goal, having kicked five of them in their first round tie and replay against Kerry.
“I thought we defended exceptionally well against that threat”, he said,
And he was full of praise for the commitment of his charges. “We have a very young side. We had two 15 year olds starting, Danny Owens and Alan Tynan. Our fullback James Feehan played the full match despite having dislocated his elbow ten days ago – that’s the dedication we are getting from them”, he added.
The downside in the performance was the number of wides – 11 in all, 8 in the first half. “I was disappointed with the wides but I was also disappointed at the point that was flagged for Cork when everyone saw it was well wide (a 52nd minute score from Michael Cahalane). That shouldn’t be happening in this day and age”, he said.
Tipp were leading 0-10 to 0-5 at the time, and McGeever said that the decision to award a point put extra pressure on Tipperary. “That point always loomed large as the game wound down”, he added.
Tipperary are now on the threshold of a first ever three-in-a-row of Munster minor football titles but according to the manager, “We are still developing. We are not yet at the level of the team that won the All-Ireland, but we are getting another few months of football and that is important” he said.
Very true, as Tipperary’s win in the semi-final guarantees them an All-Ireland quarter-final outing also, irrespective of the result against Kerry in the Munster final.