Thursday 27 July 2017

Cyril Farrell: Time for cool heads in Tipperary and Dublin - the season is still alive

Cunningham and Ryan are facing different tests but the right attitude can overcome them

'As for Ger Cunningham, he was always going to be under close scrutiny once some players opted not to join the Dublin panel. The pressure increased when Dublin were relegated.' Photo: Sportsfile
'As for Ger Cunningham, he was always going to be under close scrutiny once some players opted not to join the Dublin panel. The pressure increased when Dublin were relegated.' Photo: Sportsfile

Cyril Farrell

That didn't take long, now did it? Only a few weeks into the hurling championship and already two managers are in the spotlight, albeit in different circumstances.

Nobody could have foreseen the predicament in which Michael Ryan now finds himself when Tipperary started the year so well but then you never know what's coming next.

As for Ger Cunningham, he was always going to be under close scrutiny once some players opted not to join the Dublin panel. The pressure increased when Dublin were relegated. It shouldn't be seen as all that significant but it was.

A five-game programme is more like a blitz than a league. Relegation doesn't mean that the unlucky ones did a whole lot wrong in a group where the margins are so tight.

Besides, why worry about it? Waterford, Clare and Galway all won the title from 1B so it's obviously fertile ground for working on things ahead of the knockout games.

Still, relegation was unfortunate for Cunningham and the squad at a time of uncertainty in Dublin. And when it was followed by a wipe-out against Galway last Sunday, it made life even more uncomfortable for the manager, in particular.

Meanwhile in Tipperary, the defeat by Cork, followed by the dropping of Cathal Barrett from the panel, has changed the mood in the county.

That might be no bad thing in the longer term. It will re-focus everyone - inside and outside the camp - and when all this shakes down, Tipp will be back on the road and still among the leading All-Ireland favourites.

I don't think I have ever heard of an injured player being removed from a squad before so the decision to drop Barrett would not have been taken lightly by Ryan.

Barrett wouldn't be training with them anyway until the injury has cleared up, so Ryan's decision, which was made public very quickly, was obviously done for a specific purpose.

I have no doubt Barrett will be recalled later on if the injury clears up as per schedule but Ryan will have made his point, not just to his corner-back but to everyone else too.

Once that's done and Tipperary get into the qualifier action, events of the last six weeks won't count for much. Granted, Tipp's confidence has been hit, but once they get a win behind them - as they almost certainly will - the season will open up quickly for them again.

Remember they were without 'Bonner' Maher, Jason Forde and Michael Cahill for the Cork game so if Ryan is able to pick from a full squad later on, Tipp's chances of retaining the All-Ireland are a lot brighter than might appear to be the case now.

And if you doubt that, check back to 2010 when Liam Sheedy and his squad took plenty of criticism after the 10-point defeat by Cork in the opening Munster game.

By September, Tipperary were All-Ireland champions and everyone forgot what they said earlier.

approach It's a time for cool heads in Tipperary - their season is still very much alive.

Dublin won't be winning the All-Ireland but they've got to make as much of what's left as they can. This is a real test for them, especially the more senior lads, who can now shape the approach.

The squad have two choices - write off the season, go through the motions in training and exit the qualifiers with a whimper, or work as hard as they possibly can and see where it takes them

If they take the first route, they will let themselves, Dublin and Cunningham down. They won't get much encouragement from those who want Cunningham out but they should ignore all negativity. Hurlers on the ditch - especially destructive ones - are best ignored.

Cunningham's critics are doing Dublin hurling no favours. The players he put trust in should now drive on and do they best they can for the rest of the season. Writing it off and looking ahead to next year - probably under a new manager - would raise questions about their mentality. That wouldn't be good for them.

There are no questions over the mentality of the Clare and Limerick teams as they prepare for tomorrow's clash where the prize is huge. Apart from securing a place in the Munster final, it guarantees no involvement in the qualifiers, instead offering the possibility of a Munster title and an All-Ireland semi-final place or, at worst, a quarter-final slot.

I know it might sound strange but Clare have more to lose than Limerick tomorrow. Expectations have been very high in Clare since they won the 2013 All-Ireland and three U-21 titles.

Also, they have had a poor record in Munster for a long time so another defeat - this time under new management - would be quite a setback.

I think they will avoid it. They are ahead of Limerick in terms of squad development and while that doesn't always count in this particular derby clash, I would fancy Clare to book a clash with Cork or Waterford.

Irish Independent

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