Liam Sheedy absolutely believes in his Tipperary panel of players. Picture: Eamonn McGee
Liam Sheedy chatted with members of the local press for twenty-four minutes on Monday evening and during the discussion the Tipperary senior hurling manager mentioned the word “performance” seventeen times. And, on each occasion the Portroe man was careful to hitch on his heartfelt belief in the Premier County players. Liam Sheedy solemnly believes that the Tipperary players will deliver a performance against Wexford in Sunday’s All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship semi-final.
“I sat here before the Cork match and we were going out to play the Munster champions in the first round of the championship. We knew that we would have to bring a performance and the lads knew that they would have to bring a performance. And, they brought a massive performance,” Liam Sheedy explained to the Tipperary Star.
“So, now we find ourselves facing the Leinster champions and, likewise, we have to bring a massive performance. If we don’t we will come up short. This is a massive opportunity for this group to go and get themselves back into an All-Ireland final.
“We find ourselves exactly where we want to be and we are hell-bent on bringing a performance. We want the real Tipperary to stand up in Croke Park next Sunday because if we do I think that will give us a sporting chance. And, we all know the consequences if we don’t,” Liam Sheedy said.
MUNSTER FINAL DEFEAT
Tipperary roared through the opening four rounds of the Munster championship when accounting for Cork (2-28 to 1-24), Waterford (2-30 to 0-18), Clare (3-21 to 0-17) and Limerick (1-22 to 0-21) before encountering a real speed bump in the provincial final when the defending All-Ireland champions, Limerick, presented the Premier County with a twelve-point defeat (2-14 to 2-26) at Páirc na nGael.
“You have to ask yourself do you lose or do you learn,” Liam Sheedy said as his thoughts turned to the aftermath of the disappointing Munster final performance and aspects of the All-Ireland quarter-final victory over Laois (2-25 to 1-18).
“We were not really happy with what we brought the last day (versus Laois). We did enough and we got over the line, but, ultimately, we didn’t really find our flow and we really need to find our flow,” Sheedy added before highlighting the Premier County’s indiscipline in the tackle.
“We gave away thirteen shots at goal and eleven of those were converted. In this game you just can’t give double-digit frees away; having looked back on the footage some of it wasn’t that we were unlucky. We were late coming and we found ourselves positioned wrongly for the tackle. And, as a result of that the forward will always have the advantage. So, we were disappointed with aspects of our play.
“Tackling is a huge part of the game now. And, in parts of this championship we have not really matched up in that regard, but nothing focuses you like the Leinster champions and nothing focuses you like the All-Ireland semi-final. We know that we have to bring a very, very disciplined and controlled performance to the pitch on Sunday because there is a lot of energy coming in this Wexford jersey. We are well aware of that, but, likewise, we have a huge energy in this team and we didn’t really hit the heights of the round robin series in Munster in the Munster final or in the All-Ireland series to date.”
IN A GOOD PLACE
Irrespective of such technical issues Liam Sheedy has argued that his players are in a good place emotionally.
“People shouldn’t underestimate the impact of losing the Munster final heavily,” Liam Sheedy explained.
“The last twenty-five minutes, really, was a no-show from us. And, that’s the first time that we would have seen that all year - that does take its toll and it took its toll on the group because we set very high standards for ourselves. And, when we don’t achieve them we are extremely disappointed.
“The players know what a good performance looks like. We don’t measure ourselves just on the scoreboard. We are very clear on how we measure ourselves and our performance. And, we didn’t measure up, especially in the second half, in that Munster final,” Sheedy said.
“It was hugely disappointing for us, but full credit goes to the All-Ireland champions: they put us to the sword. We had to learn from that and we had to re-group. We had to go again and training has been very competitive in the last number of weeks which is really encouraging.”
But the senior management group led by Liam Sheedy (Portroe), Tommy Dunne (Toomevara) and Darragh Egan (Kiladangan) have their players exactly where they want them to be.
“We are exactly where we wanted to be,” agreed Liam Sheedy.
“We did not take the route that we would have liked to have taken, but I have seen enough out of this team to know that if we bring what we are capable of bringing we have a good shout.”
PERCEPTION PLAYS A PART
The perception of a team, especially when it suffers a comprehensive defeat, can change dramatically. Tipperary did ship a twelve-point defeat in the provincial final, but for long stages of the championship the Premier County set the pace. So, perhaps, perception is playing a part; Tipperary may not be as bad as Limerick made them seem in the Munster decider.
“Sometimes when it is going very well people nearly put you on a pedestal way higher than where you actually should be and then, obviously, when things are not going as well, sometimes, they are very quick to push you down further than you actually are,” Liam Sheedy revealed.
“It’s amazing - we were probably being spoken about in the really high echelons after the first four rounds (of the championship) and after the last two matches we seemed to have been, somewhat, written off in a number of sectors. So, I suppose for us it’s really about asking ourselves what have we got in the tank?
“These guys have gone through eight months of extremely productive work,” Liam Sheedy added.
“I feel privileged to be managing a really good group and they are giving it absolutely everything. I could not be more pleased by how they have applied themselves. All I can ask of them now is to really empty the tank for this cause. What we are looking for now is for this group to bring all of the work that they have done out onto the pitch on Sunday.”
The Tipperary senior management team pictured taking in the Munster under-20 hurling final at Semple Stadium, Thurles - from left: Liam Sheedy, Eamon O'Shea, Darragh Egan and Tommy Dunne.
WEXFORD ARE SERIOUS
Wexford are undefeated and are provincial champions - David Fitzgerald’s men drew with Dublin (2-19 to 1-22), Galway (0-16 each) and Kilkenny (0-21 to 1-18) before seeing off the challenge of Brian Cody’s men in the Leinster final (1-23 to 0-23) while the Model County also beat Carlow (2-28 to 0-19) en route to this stage of the championship.
“This is a serious, serious Wexford side which is seriously well prepared,” Liam Sheedy said.
“They are in peak physical condition - they will stay the distance. They have extremely good hurlers and they have a lot of pace in their team. And, they are very comfortable in the game plan that they play.
“Their shooting efficiency in the Leinster final was something that you would have to admire - they only had three wides. So, when they got a chance their radar was on; that’s why we feel that we are really going to have to apply the right level of pressure to force the shots somewhat. And, we know that if we foul and we give them the free shot then Lee Chin will punish us every time.
“We all know that this is a formidable opponent that we face on Sunday, but what else would you expect,” Sheedy added.
“What else would you expect when you get into the last four of the All-Ireland series?
“The likelihood is that you are going to get to sixty or sixty-five minutes and there will only be a point or two in it either way - that’s what you can expect.
“We know exactly what’s facing us: they are the Leinster champions and they are unbeaten in the championship, but we also know what we can bring. And, all of our focus for the last two weeks has been on what we are going to bring,” the Tipperary senior hurling manager explained.
“We are not naïve in any way. We are well aware of what they bring and how they play, but, ultimately, we are also aware of what we can bring. What I have the most control over is my own team and my own dressing room and that’s what we really, really focus on. We know exactly how Wexford play and we know what their style of play is. Ultimately, the game will be played on one team’s terms for large parts of the contest and whoever is able to impose their strengths and their game on the opposition is going to have a really good chance of bringing home the prize.
“Wexford are a formidable opposition, but when I look at my team and when I look at what we can bring I am hugely excited. We set very high standards for ourselves in this group and that is all driven by the players themselves. They know that they have not hit the heights of what’s required to be successful over the last two matches. They were a shadow of themselves versus what they brought to the previous four matches. So, I am looking for the real Tipperary to come out,” Liam Sheedy said.
“The preparation has been superb. The lads have really trained hard. Everyone around the squad is doing everything that they can for this group and the group is responding. We will be asking the group now to go and deliver a performance in Croke Park. I have total belief in this group and their ability to go and bring a performance. If we do we have a real chance of getting to an All-Ireland final. And, if we don’t we will come up short.”
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