John Mullane: Intensity must go up a few levels or Ryan’s troops will face another final mauling
A repeat display won't do against Cody's kingpins in next month's hurling showpiece
Published 15/08/2016 | 02:30
After watching the weekend's two All-Ireland semi-finals, it's clear that Tipperary will have to up their intensity levels considerably ahead of next month's final with Kilkenny.
If they want to go toe-to-toe with the Cats they'll have to be far more physical, because the first 25 minutes of Saturday's Kilkenny v Waterford game was absolutely ferocious.
I didn't see those levels for large parts of Tipp's victory over Galway. It was a physical encounter, don't get me wrong, but as Tipp manager Michael Ryan said after the game, they're now facing the "masters of intensity".
One positive from a Tipperary point of view is that they've won a tight game and crashed through that mental barrier.
Their resolve has been questioned in the past and to win a game of this magnitude by just a single point is a massive plus.
There's a bit more steel about them now and this game looked like petering out into another disappointing defeat until that moment of brilliance from John 'Bubbles' O'Dwyer.
Tipp's two goals were of the highest quality and Kilkenny will know their final opponents have those moments in their locker.
The losses of Joe Canning and Adrian Tuohy to injury were fatal blows to Galway, however.
They were two points up at half-time, but in the dressing room they lost Canning, their chief talisman.
And yet Galway still reacted in a wholly positive manner during the second-half. How they've recovered from their Leinster final defeat to Kilkenny speaks volumes about their character, which was certainly called into question.
Conor Cooney, David Burke, Joseph Cooney and Pádraic Mannion were excellent for Galway, but Daithí Burke was their man of the match.
Tipp will know they weren't at Munster championship pitch. Burke was heroic on Seamus Callanan, who ran riot against them last year, but it should be noted that Callanan was still central to the winning of this game.
Michael Ryan moved him to wing-forward and it took Burke out of the full-back position, opening up gaps for Tipp to exploit and execute those two late goals.
John McGrath showed massive leadership when Tipp's need was greatest, creating one goal and scoring another.
Tipp have plenty to work on, but remember in 2010 how they barely got over the line against Galway in an All-Ireland quarter-final - and look at how the remainder of the season panned out.
It's yet another final with Kilkenny for Tipperary and they did stop the Cats doing the five-in-a-row back in 2010.
Now they have the chance to deny them a three-in-a-row. It couldn't be set up any better.
There were some big moments from big players yesterday. Pádraic Maher's hook on Conor Cooney was sensational and what about that shoulder on Joe Canning?
When have we seen a big man like Joe sent to ground like that?
And yet Tipp will know that, for large parts of the game, they underperformed.
Two guys who were staking Hurler of the Year claims - Cathal Barrett and Callanan - didn't have their best outings, but they'll be better in the final.
The big worry for Tipp is that they went 16 minutes without a score in the first-half. It's a kink in their game that needs ironing out, but Kilkenny went a large period of the second-half barren against Waterford, so it can happen.
Credit to Callanan, though. He might not have scored from play, but he hit some crucial frees and set up John McGrath for that super goal.
I just thought that Tipp looked laboured in much of what they were trying to do and it was a far from flawless performance, certainly a few levels down from the Munster final.
However, this game will stand to Tipp and it's probably a perfect way for them to go into an All-Ireland final now.
The introduction of John O'Dwyer was a game-changer. He scored a goal after coming on and it's crucial that he starts the final now. Michael Ryan did make the right call leaving him on the bench yesterday, though. After all, how could he drop anybody following that emphatic Munster final performance?
What I did like about Tipp was their ability to respond to setbacks yesterday, most notably when they conceded goals. They hit back with two points after Conor Cooney's goal and landed three points on the trot after Joseph Cooney found the net in the second-half.
As for Galway, well they're in a really good place now. OK, they were relegated to Division 1B, but that's an ideal breeding ground for new players as Micheál Donoghue prepares to revamp his squad.