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Grafter Lar deserves his moment of glory

MAYBE there is a hoodoo on this five-in-row after all. I remember being at home back in 1982 when Seamus Darby kicked that goal which beat the greatest football team of all time and it was great to be in Croke Park yesterday to see Tipperary do the same to Kilkenny.

I have to say I had mixed feelings over the result, though. I honestly thought Kilkenny deserved to be the most unique team, the one that did the five in-a-row and that their spot in the annals of the GAA would be at the very summit. But they will know the harsh lesson today that deserving something and actually achieving it are two completely different things.

It wasn't to be and this five in-a-row thing does seem to be a heavy burden. Circumstances played against them, a bit like it did Kerry all those years ago.

Some of the uncharacteristic mistakes Kilkenny made, you wouldn't normally see. There was some poor hand-passing and they were sloppier at the back than we have grown accustomed to seeing.

But I've been saying for the last few years that Tipperary are possibly the most professional outfit in hurling. They really are tight and concise in their analysis and they have their homework done and it showed yesterday.

Everybody was asking what tactics do you employ to beat Kilkenny. Do you drop a man deep? Take short puck-outs? Tipperary just fronted up and won their battles and Liam Sheedy got just about everything right on the day.

Noel Hickey, for example, isn't quite as mobile as he once was and they alternated between using Lar Corbett and Noel McGrath on him and it paid rich dividends.

The same with John Tennyson who, despite coming through the game, couldn't have been at 100 per cent. When they were swapping in and out, they exploited that channel on occasion too.

Man-marking the Kilkenny backs worked perfectly too.

Patrick Maher seemed content enough just to keep Tommy Walsh relatively quiet, though Walsh did get through his share of work early on and finished well.

No doubt, losing Henry Shefflin was a blow but the circumstances of the match at that juncture made it much worse. If it was 1-3 to 0-1 to Kilkenny and Shefflin had to go off, it wouldn't have been as cruel a blow but to be trailing by that margin and seeing Henry limp off must have lowered the other players a fraction.

You look at the chance that Eddie Brennan had when he tried to hit it first time and you thought that every other year, that sliotar is going into the back of the net but it just didn't fall right for Eddie or, you would have to say, Kilkenny on the day in general.

Tommy Walsh stepped out over the line for a ball he was going for when he was clearing it up the field and it's these little small things that decide these big games and enough of them went in Tipp's favour that they could hold off Kilkenny at the right times.

Brendan Cummins coming out of goal and floating over that enormous effort from 100 metres had you just asking yourself, 'is this Tipp's day?'


But even though Kilkenny were outhurled in the first half, they showed great character and spirit to come back.

Their goal was a pristine move between Eoin Larkin and Richie Power and though they were a point down at half-time, in reality, it should have been more.

But Tipp were winning a lot of the positions on the pitch. Their two midfield men got on top, particularly early on. Shane McGrath started like a man possessed but Sheedy showed that he has total faith in his bench.

It's a 20-man game now and Sheedy took off both midfielders. The message was obviously 'go for 55 or 60 minutes' and then we'll freshen it up.

You saw Benny Dunne there and it just shows how sport is unbelievable at times.

This time last year, Benny was in the depths of despair. People were asking how will he even go home after what happened in the final and then he comes on and scores the insurance point.

As a reflex, we all speak about the strength in depth that we have in our panels, but Tipp's options were apparent when Seamus Callanan and Seamus Hennessy came on and scored three points between them.

Brian Cody said last week that pound for pound, Tipp had every bit as strong a bench and a lot of people were sceptical of him but they showed it yesterday.

As for Lar Corbett, if any forward in the game deserves that sort of day, it's him, purely for his work-rate. He does a pile of it.

The amount of chasing and blocking he does in a match -- he's just a fantastic example to all forwards.

I remember doing a couple of one-on-ones with a few of the Dublin forwards this year and showed them examples of Lar Corbett.

A lot of what he does would be considered the unglamorous side of the game but the glamorous part is the slotting away of the three goal chances and he took them all brilliantly yesterday.

When he started first, there was a bit of criticism that he might be a bit lazy but since Nicky English got a hold of him, he has developed into a bit of class.

I wondered last week whether Tipperary had the sort of form you need to beat Kilkenny and in fairness, they hadn't shown it up until yesterday.

But when the day came, they had all the answers and without any qualms at all, they're deserving All-Ireland champions.