LORRHA’S Ken Hogan looked utterly thrilled with the efforts of his Tipperary under-21 players in the aftermath of Wednesday night’s Munster semi-final win over Limerick at the Gaelic Grounds.
“Delighted,” Ken Hogan told the Tipperary Star.
“A great bunch of guys - it’s a real pleasure for me.
“We have a lot to be thankful for in the youth of Tipperary.
“And, now these guys have come through.
“They might not have got the success they deserved at minor level, but they are really hungry to succeed.
“The one thing about this team is that we don’t panic. I suppose people were worried at half-time, two points up after playing with a strong breeze and after a lot of possession.
“It was difficult conditions out there with the ball sliding off the hurley, but thankfully it paid off in the end,” Ken Hogan said.
“There was tremendous desire, tremendous work rate and at the end of the day if you have an honest bunch of guys you are going to get places,” Tipperary manager Ken Hogan added.
The Lorrha man, who guided the Tipperary under-21s to provincial and All-Ireland glory in 2010, is joined on the management team by TJ Connolly (Cashel) and Tony Lanigan (Holycross-Ballycahill).
“We knew that we would leave everything on the pitch tonight and I think we did that.
“And, it’s testament to the lads there that they were even annoyed over the goal they let in there.
“They are so proud of their record of keeping clean sheets and holding teams out.
“It’s still July and we have to look at the bigger picture.
“There’s not a lot won yet, we’ve nothing won yet and obviously we’re preparing for a Munster final now,” Ken Hogan said.
Although Tipperary dominated the opening half, the Premier fired 11 wides and led by just two points at the break (1-6 to 0-7).
And, with Ken Hogan’s men now facing a stiff breeze Tipperary supporters were concerned for their team.
“Funny enough it wasn’t that type of game where the breeze was going to have a huge impact because it was wet and slippery and the conditions were greasy,” Ken Hogan explained.
“If you have a strong wind down the field on a dry evening obviously the ball is going to be flying a hundred yards down the field, but I think this evening that our backline were so strong.
“You know Willie (Ryan) got a yellow card early on for a foul and he took the yellow card on the chin.
“I suppose in football terms you would be wondering well what can we do now?
“But Willie was so disciplined afterwards and he was so strong in the middle.
“He stood up and was counted. He didn’t go away hiding and I thought our half-back line were tremendous under pressure.
“We had a really tough game with Galway last week and Galway played their full team with their senior stars.
“And, we had a really tough game with them on a very bad evening and I think that really stood to us as well,” Ken Hogan said.
The Tipperary under-21 will now prepare for a Munster final on August 8th.
And, Ken Hogan knows that there is plenty of work still to be done.
“There is always something to work on,” Ken Hogan admitted.
“But the lads are so honest. We will go away and assess that. We will talk about it and we will discuss the last day.
“You never discuss it in the aftermath of a match, but you discuss it the next night after training.
“Obviously there are a lot of club fixtures on this weekend and all them fellas - you know the one thing I would say to them is that your club is number one.
“You come in to us, but you’re proud club men. I think they will go away now for this weekend and work hard with their club.”
As Munster champions and featuring eight members of their senior panel Limerick approached this provincial semi-final as hot favourites.
“I suppose it was a help,” Ken Hogan admitted, “but in fairness to Limerick they came in as reigning Munster champions with a huge amount of the players they had from last year.
“I suppose that’s why they were installed as favourites.
“We had to accept that, but it’s about what happens between the lines.
“We have probably been hurt before as favourites and maybe as underdogs we have done well so it works both ways.
“It’s all about the play on the pitch.”
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