Thursday 29 September 2016

John Mullane: It upsets me people will revel in this defeat because of Waterford's system

John Mullane

Published 11/07/2016 | 02:30

Tipperary’s Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher is tackled by Waterford’s Austin Gleeson. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Tipperary’s Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher is tackled by Waterford’s Austin Gleeson. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

I needn't tell you that I didn't see that one coming. I'm absolutely gutted for the Waterford management and players. It would be easy for me to be critical and stick the boot in but I've been in that position before and it's a lonely place.

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You see goal after goal going in and you freeze. I'm sure it was an awful dressing room to be in after the game and a quiet journey home.

Derek McGrath did warn we might experience a day like this again but it upsets me a little that people out there will revel in this defeat, because of how Derek sets up his team.

Waterford have been a breath of fresh air over the last 12 months but they didn't turn up yesterday. Never mind talk of the sweeper system; the work-rate required to win a Munster final simply wasn't there.

Tipperary captain Brendan Maher lifts the cup. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Tipperary captain Brendan Maher lifts the cup. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

We were lethargic and sluggish, stuck to the ground. On the flipside, as Derek acknowledged, Tipp were clinical and skilful. In fact, they were exceptional and got their tactics spot on.

Look at how they nullified the sweeper - Darren Gleeson went direct and Tipp got bodies around Tadhg de Búrca. When they got possession they were able to slip the ball off to runners and Waterford were opened up time and again.

So where to for Waterford? The disappointing thing is we've been down this road before - losing heavily in the 2011 Munster final and 2008 All-Ireland final. For such a young team, it's a big setback to ship a defeat like this but they have to regroup now. There is no other option.

Five years ago we were in a similar position but we came out a fortnight later and beat Galway by 10 points.

It's not going to be easy to lift the lads but if you'd told me a week ago that we'd be playing Wexford in an All-Ireland quarter-final, I'd fancy us to take them.

The difference now is that Wexford will be on such a high after beating Cork on Saturday. It's a local derby but still a winnable game for Waterford.

Seamus Callanan of Tipperary is warmly congratulated by supporters. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Seamus Callanan of Tipperary is warmly congratulated by supporters. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Even though this one really hurts, I don't envisage Waterford having too many days like this again. They'll have to park it quickly, get back to training on Wednesday night but I presume there will be a meeting on Tuesday to clear the air and get back on the horse.

Waterford are still in the championship, let's not forget, and they won't become a bad team overnight. There are some exceptional players on this team and I expect them to respond in a positive way.

It would be remiss of me not to mention some of Tipp's key performers. I've spoken about Cathal Barrett on more than one occasion this summer and it will take some player to take the Hurler of the Year award from this fella.

At wing-back, Seamus Kennedy is growing on me but Tipp's back six, as a unit, has a solid look. Waterford only managed 13 scores yesterday, four from play. Just three players contributed to the scoreboard but if you look at Tipp in the championship to date, they're not conceding a huge amount - 13 points against Cork and 1-16 against Limerick, with 14 men.

Derek McGrath reacts to Tipperary's dominance on field. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Derek McGrath reacts to Tipperary's dominance on field. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Their manager Michael Ryan mentioned in the build-up that the Waterford defence was watertight but his has been exceptional.

In midfield, Michael Breen and Brendan Maher are a powerful combination and while Dan McCormack didn't score, I thought he was brilliant, particularly in the first half, in terms of setting up scores.

I must admit that I was forewarned. I predicted a Waterford win and while covering the Cork-Dublin game last weekend, I challenged Nicky English to a €20 bet on the Munster final. He insisted that Tipp would score goals, I disagreed with him but you could see from early on yesterday that they had green flags on their minds.

Now the challenge for Tipp is to handle the five-week break. Brendan Maher said after the game yesterday that the real work starts now and I think they'll have learned a lot from last year. I expect Tipp to put in a colossal shift for the next five weeks and be ready for August 14.

So while Tipp sit back and wait for their semi-final opponents, the quarter-final pairings are now confirmed. Wexford's victory over Cork was another result I didn't envisage happening.

I thought Cork would take care of them but I'm not going to say that Cork were awful - it was more a case that Wexford were brilliant. They played a lovely brand of hurling, really aggressive, and responded well to setbacks throughout the game. They went with a big, two-man full-forward line and this tactic was spot on as Conor McDonald and Podge Doran were a handful for Cork.

David Dunne was excellent too but Lee Chin and McDonald were heroic. Wexford won't have any fear of Waterford now and two years ago, they beat us at Nowlan Park. I was delighted for their manager Liam Dunne - you could see how much this one meant to him. The first time in 60 years that Wexford beat Cork in senior championship hurling? An amazing stat and a result that cannot be underestimated.

Later in the day, Clare took care of Limerick without setting the world alight.

They did just about enough but serious improvement is needed before they take on Galway.

Clare are on a collision course with Micheál Donoghue's wounded Tribesmen and that's one to savour.

Davy Fitzgerald was clever after the game, quick to distance himself from Ger Loughnane's scathing criticism of Galway. The mind games have already begun but for now, Davy will be delighted to have negotiated the qualifier minefield.

Irish Independent

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