Dunne certain Tipp veterans will stay on
Published 06/09/2011 | 05:00
It may well have been an ordinary Monday morning around the foyer of the Burlington Hotel, not the morning after the day before when a hurling team is coming to terms with the evaporation of a crown won so hard 12 months earlier.
When a team loses a final together for the first time the support is usually unconditional and that's how it was at the same venue two years ago.
You had to scan a little harder around the open-plan reception area to be certain that it had in fact housed the beaten All-Ireland finalists overnight.
Lose a second final in three years and a team will generally have to get back up on their feet by themselves.
One of those whistling positive notes, however, was their coach Tommy Dunne, the 2001 All-Ireland-winning captain, who is adamant that no retirement papers will be signed off between now and the beginning of next season.
Brendan Cummins, captain Eoin Kelly, Lar Corbett and John O'Brien have all punched in more than a decade of service now but if they are preparing to clean out their desks at any stage over the next few months, Dunne wasn't betraying any hint of that yesterday.
"I don't think they'll be thinking about retirement. I mean, why would they? If they are still enjoying it, which I think they are, and are still playing well, which they are, it's totally up to them what they do. They're phenomenal players and we expect that they'll be 100pc on board again next year.
"They'll be disappointed. When you are around the 30 mark you tend to think about how many more of these chances will you get, so their disappointment may be a bit more acute. But they'll be fine.
"They have seen the ups and downs of sport and they'll handle it the same way they handle winning. I'm sure they'll be fine. They'll let the dust settle, they're terrific guys and there'll be no fear of them (going)."
Dunne quickly pointed to Kilkenny's recovery from much the same position 12 months ago and how quickly moods can change.
"Those guys (Kilkenny) were questioned a few months ago after the league final. Be very careful about writing any players off. We have players of tremendous character and they'll be absolutely 100pc."
Still, Sunday was a chastening defeat and Dunne identified the opening 14 minutes, a period during which they remained scoreless, as the source of their problems.
"When you go 14 minutes in an All-Ireland final without scoring, that's a major point for us to look at anyway. The first half was all Kilkenny's but the second half was better and we got back into the game somewhat, in fairness. The first half was the problem for us.
"The template for the game was set very early on and it was Kilkenny's, unfortunately from our point of view."
For Dunne, the consolation was losing a game by four points that could easily have been lost by 10.
"We will have to analyse it first and look at all aspects of it but I think one of the good things from our point of view was that at seven points down, it could have gone to 10 or 12, but the lads really knuckled down and brought it back to three points and if we had got another score at that stage and got it to two points, it would have been a serious finish. I thought the lads showed serious character at seven points down to bring it back to a single-score game.
"We have all been involved in sport and you win and you lose but when you don't play to your potential on a big day that is why we are so disappointed, that's why the players are so disappointed.
"We know that we are a lot better than that but we have to give credit to Kilkenny for not allowing us to play as well."
Dunne admits that the move into senior management has been "challenging for us all".
"This time 12 months ago I certainly did not expect to be in this position with the previous management moving on. There have been huge changes that the players have had to cope with but I think overall we have coped fairly well.
"It is just a disappointing end to the season but overall it has been enjoyable."
In 10 years Dunne can't believe the level of preparation now involved in an inter-county team by comparison to his days as a player.
"I think the level of detail, the level of preparation and the level of professionalism that goes into preparing an inter-county team is absolutely through the roof. That was the biggest eye-opener for me.
"It has changed, it's a different league. I can't believe how much it has changed, to be honest. I'm talking in terms of physical preparation, mental preparation and how players play at this level. All of that is just absolutely changed beyond all measure, from what I can see."
Dunne is convinced that the hurt felt now will manifest into something much more positive in the months ahead.
"I think this is definitely a setback for us but you get setbacks all the time in sport and I expect the lads will show their true character, stick together and come back hungrier than ever.
"That's what I expect and from talking to them that's what they will do. No team has a divine right to win it, the best team in the year is going to win it but we feel that we are up there with the best right now."