'Banner boys have raised bar to whole new level'
Tipperary secretary believes county's hurlers must adapt to make up ground on All-Ireland champions
TIPPERARY secretary Tim Floyd has warned, in a comprehensive report to next week's convention, that Clare's meteoric rise during 2013 has forced the issue of rapidly changing styles in hurling back on to the agenda.
"All-Ireland winners normally dictate what is fashionable and the Banner boys have raised the bar to a new level of class, pace, athleticism and power," he admits.
Floyd believes Tipperary are well placed to adapt to these changing circumstances, but cautions that the Premier County can only place faith in a certain type of player if they are to be successful in the future.
"We must only select players who have the discipline, commitment and loyalty to see it through from start to finish. I believe we have the players to fulfil this mission and I also believe we have the management team in place to lead it," he says.
Floyd feels the industry shown by Clare in 2013 is something Tipperary must take on board.
"All teams now have analysts on the line taking notes on hooks, blocks, winning puck-outs, but most importantly on turnovers. All the aforementioned are about work rate," he writes.
"The stats in 2010 will show that Tipperary made 15 turnovers in the final to Kilkenny's 12. The following year, when we lost, Kilkenny made 18 turnovers to our paltry three.
"Unfortunately, we dropped our intensity level and in a below-par performance in the All-Ireland final, we handed Kilkenny an easy title and gave them back the initiative which they held for two more years.
"Their powerful hurling style looked like dominating the game for a long time, but 2013 proved a step too far for them.
"Clare also depend on winning breaks and forcing turnovers, but their young enthusiastic team have work rate to execute this.
"The style of hurling that Clare brought to the table in 2013 first became evident to me in the Waterford Crystal final in Semple Stadium on February 9.
"On that night they pressed a button after 20 minutes and ran Tipperary off the field with a spectacular display of running and passing to claim the first of their trophies in 2013. Strangely enough, we reversed the result seven weeks later at the same venue in our vital final group game in the league."
Recalling the "embarrassing" defeats against Clare in the Waterford Crystal Cup and Cork in the National League, Floyd notes that both teams subsequently ended up in the All-Ireland final.
"This defies burnout claims and confirms the need for heavy training during pre- and early season," he says.
He adds that he had never witnessed such "despair" in a Tipperary dressing- room in the aftermath of the defeat to Kilkenny at Nowlan Park.
Floyd has also called on the GAA, at central level, to review the criteria by which it distributes finance to counties.
At present, travel and subsistence; a share of the league pool according to status and progress; contribution to team holidays if a county reaches an All-Ireland final and games development are among the headline items that counties are funded by from Croke Park.
"I was very interested to hear our Uachtarán, Liam O'Neill's comments on distribution of finances to counties.
"Payment of central funding to counties is normally linked to such things as having manager/player charters returned, ticket accounts cleared, insurance premium paid, fines and fees up to date, plus an ever growing list of obligations," he says.
Floyd believes finance shouldn't be so much linked to success, but more aligned with proper promotion of games, rewarding counties who equally promote hurling and football, actively promote additional aims of the association related to culture, investment in the recruitment and training of referees, investment in centres of excellence and field intermediate and junior teams which serve as important curtain-raisers on the day of big games.
Tipperary are confident that their finances will be in better shape when accounts are presented to next week's convention.
"On the expenditure side, we have managed to make considerable improvements on our team costs, with a saving of at least €250k anticipated (costs were €1.1m last year), but, of course, the shortened season contributed to this," he reflects.
"Still, a greater focus on such areas as hotel costs, bus hire, team-support expenses, gear, car-pooling, etc has brought about the desired effects," he warns.
Tipperary have witnessed a positive spike in gate receipts in 2013, with an increase from €143,000 to a total of €380,000, bringing income in this area back close to a most recent best in 2009.
In four years, gate receipts had dropped from €425,000 in 2009 to €237,000 in 2012.
An interesting survey conducted by Tipperary County Board during the year revealed that 640 players have emigrated from clubs in the county over the last five years.
Of that figure, just 40pc are believed to have continued playing abroad as only 270 of the 640 players requested transfers.