Winning a Munster hurling title is an accomplishment.
Retaining it, more so, but to retain it while having to field a completely new side considerably endorses the work of the management team, in this case, manager, Fethardâ€™s Michael Ryan and his colleagues, coach Michael Ferncombe (Holycross), Eamon Oâ€™Dwyer (Arravale Rovers) and Sean Oâ€™Meara (Shannon Rovers).
Tipperary fielded a selection with a view to grooming talent for the senior team, and while, with the exception of goalkeeper Darragh Egan, there was no stand-out performances, there was a determination and resilience in the side that was admirable, as was borne out by their refusal to wilt when the Cork pressure came on in earnest in the hectic closing stages.
This was Tipperaryâ€™s first time putting Munster titles back-to-back in this grade, and ninth success, four less than Cork in the honours list, but Manager Ryan would not be drawn on whether he considered this yearâ€™s team stronger than last yearâ€™s.
â€œI wouldnâ€™t be making comparisons between the teams but what I will say is that this bunch of players have given us everything and have done everything that has been asked of themâ€, he said after the game.
He did concede that his charges are capable of better than they showed against Cork. â€œWe did not play anywhere near what we are capable of, but having said that, Cork were a very big team who used their physique well. Their long puck outs put our defence under fierce pressure but I suppose we got a rub of the green. Cork had a chance to level the game at the end but they went for the juggler, and we managed to surviveâ€, he added.
A key factor in the Tippeary win was the introduction of four substitutes for the closing minutes. The manager explained â€“ â€œDanny O Hanlonâ€™s hamstring was beginning to tighten up and Thomas Butler was only back a short time after injury. We felt we needed fresh legs and we are fortunate that we have players on the bench capable of giving us a lift when we need itâ€, he said.
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