Terrific Tipp back on track
TIPPERARY 3-28 LAOIS 0-13 John Harrington IRONIC that on the same day Clare are knocked out of the championship, Tipperary should re-establish themselves as viable contenders.
It might be unwise to read too much into this result considering the paucity of the Laois challenge, but Tipp can certainly look forward to the rest of the championship with renewed hope after Saturday's utterly convincing win in Portlaoise.
The defeat to Clare had highlighted a number of weaknesses in the team, but Michael Doyle's corrective surgery was as effective as it was brave.
Moving Tommy Dunne to centre-back was an unqualified success. He swept intelligently behind his half-backs, was strong under the high ball and his clearances were long and accurate.
Eddie Enright and Eoin Brislane complemented one another nicely in a new-look midfield, while Denis Byrne at full-forward brought a vibrant new dimension to the Tipperary attack. There was always going to be tremendous pressure on the former Kilkenny captain, but he was equal to the challenge and his distribution and score-taking were excellent.
Paul Curran's solid performance at full-back was also worthy of note. He's clearly benefited from the four weeks training since the Clare match, and looked much sharper than he did then.
He'll never bring the same inspirational qualities to the equation that Philip Maher does, but if he can continue to make the area around the goals safe in that unfussy style of his then Maher's absence might not be the critical blow to Tipperary's title aspirations that it first seemed.
Michael Doyle was surely pleased with by such a convincing display from his rejigged team, but he would also have preferred a stiffer test from Laois with which to truly gauge their worth.
It was a procession from start to finish as Tipp were always too fast, too savvy and too ruthless for Paudie Butler's completely outclassed team.
The match was effectively over as a contest as early as the 18th minute by which time Tipp led by 2-6 to 0-1. The goals came from Eoin Kelly who showed little regard for the seams of the sliotar by leathering it past John Lyons on both occasions.
Kelly was benefiting from the presence of Denis Byrne who found him time and again with accurate passes into space, and further decorated an excellent first half performance with three fine points of his own.
Tipp led at half-time by 2-16 to 0-5, and had stretched that advantage with another goal just a minute after the restart.
Predictably, the match degenerated into something resembling a less than competitive challenge match after that, as Tipp eased off the gas.
SCORERS - Tipperary: E Kelly 2-8 (0-4f), D Byrne 0-6 (2f), B O'Meara 1-1, C Gleeson 0-3, P Kelly 0-3 (1f, 1 '65'), M O'Leary 0-3, G O'Grady 0-2 B Dunne 0-1, L Corbett 0-1. Laois: J Young 0-5 (3f, 1 '65'), B McCormack 0-2, D Cuddy 0-1, E Maher 0-2, J Phelan 0-1, L Tynan 0-1, C Coonan 0-1.
TEAMS AND PLAYER RATINGS
TIPPERARY - B Cummins 8; T Costello 7, P Curran 8, M Maher 7; B Dunne 8, T Dunne 9, P Kelly 8; E Enright 7, E Brislane 8; J Carroll 6, C Gleeson 8, M O'Leary 7; E Kelly 9, D Byrne 9, B O'Meara 7. Subs: G O'Grady 7 for C Gleeson (42), L Corbett 7 for B O'Meara (52), A Butler 7 for T Dunne (54), J Devane for E Brislane (60), L Cahill for E Kelly (62).
LAOIS - J Lyons 7; L Mahon 6, P Cuddy 5, Paul Drennan 5; C Cuddy 6, Paul Cuddy 6, P Mahon 7; J Young 7, R Jones 6; J Phelan 6, L Tynan 5, F O'Sullivan 5; T Fitzgerald 6, D Cuddy 7, D Culleton 6. Subs: E Maher 7 for J Phelan (41), B McCormack 7 for R O'Sullivan (44), L Wynne 6 for P Drennan (52), T Phelan for L Tynan (61), C Coonan for L Wynne (63)
REF - Tommy McIntyre (Antrim)
ATTENDANCE - 8,000