We've fixed issues that cost us against Galway last year, insists Premier boss Ryan
Published 09/08/2016 | 02:30
Tipperary manager Michael Ryan has described last year's All-Ireland SHC semi-final defeat to Galway as a "tragedy" - but rejected the assertion that his players were bullied by Galway at Croke Park.
Instead, Ryan believes it was Galway's higher levels of intensity that won the day, as Tipp struggled to reach the peaks that saw them storm to Munster glory.
Tipp lost by a point against the Tribesmen, and the criticism levelled at them was that they were out-muscled by Galway.
But Ryan responded: "I don't subscribe to the notion that one team bullies the other. They got to a level of intensity that we just didn't match or couldn't match.
"And that's the tragedy for us. But full credit to Galway. . ."
That defeat hardened Ryan's view that Tipp needed a change of direction and a fresh approach.
Thus far, the template has worked a treat and he is determined that his charges have learned the lessons of 12 months ago, when a five-week gap between provincial success and All-Ireland semi-final proved problematic.
And Ryan believes he has addressed some of the underlying issues behind that agonising loss.
After taking charge, Ryan vowed that Tipp would be more direct and physical - and those qualities have certainly been evident in their march to Munster glory.
Ryan's appointment was unique, too, as he knew he was the heir to the throne before Eamon O'Shea's third, and final, year at the helm.
He explained: "Continuity was the real reason that appointment was made so early because we believed that we were on the right road and that this was the right direction.
"And, in terms of bringing my own stamp to it what I would consider as different is that we are getting to the intensity levels.
"But that was crying out obvious - that was why we failed, that was one of the reasons why we failed in 2015. We had to get to that level of intensity.
"Very early we called it out that we had to get back to a more traditional game, that would compete with the new levels that were being set day in day out, particularly by Kilkenny."
Looking back, and as a selector alongside O'Shea at the time, Ryan admits that he didn't detect any clues to suggest that preparations were in any way off.
"It's a very difficult one. Prior to the match, honestly, there was nothing that concerned us in the lead-up during the week or in the dressing-room before the match or in hotel prior to that.
"That's the difficult part of management. It is so difficult to put your finger on, but harsh experiences do steel you.
"The lads have driven this as much as we have. They really wanted to get back to this point come hell or high water in 2016 and we're here."
In the opposite dug-out next Sunday will stand Micheál Donoghue, a man familiar to Ryan as he worked behind the scenes with Tipp in 2014 and 2015.
Perhaps if Tipp had won the All-Ireland last year, Donoghue might still be involved with them but Ryan believes he was always destined to wear the Galway 'Bainisteoir' bib.
"I think Micheál was always going to get involved with Galway and why wouldn't he?" he said.
"He is Galway through and through. It was a very difficult situation for Micheál to be in last year: working with us and then we meet Galway in an All-Ireland semi-final.
"It must be a nightmare, it's one I would hate, but he handled it very well. He got plenty of stick, but he is a true hurling man and he is a real Galway man."