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Status quo is restored

SO in the season after the earth finally moved underneath hurling's superpowers, we arrive back at a Kilkenny/Tipperary All-Ireland final.

Shortest. Revolution. Ever.

Which isn't to detract in any way from Tipperary's splendid achievement in turning themselves from a team of underachieving geniuses into an 
All-Ireland-contesting force once more.

It's just that everyone got such a kick out of 2013, most probably hoped the novelty would prolong.

Anyway, it's true what they say about Tipp.

When it clicks, they're magnificent. And from a point whereby Eamon O'Shea's grasp on his own tenure looked pretty tentative post-Limerick in this year's Munster SHC, he's on the cusp of something very special.

"Every year throws up something different and our boys were determined from when we met last year that if there was anything going to be different this year, it was going to be Tipp," he said afterwards.

It's hard not to like O'Shea (pictured, left) and it's very natural to be genuinely happy for him.

Having failed to beat Kilkenny in two League finals and exited Munster at the earliest available opportunity in both his seasons since succeeding Declan Ryan, it was hard to see O'Shea back at this juncture but he retained faith all through their hardship.

And, almost identically to 2010, when they stopped Kilkenny doing the five-in-a-row, Tipp have taken to the qualifiers like a particularly energetic duck to a pond.

"We've won now by 10, 17, 13, 10 - and people want to see us win a tight game? I'd prefer to win by 10," he said, rather sensibly.

"It kinda relaxes me."

"In terms of where it came from, these guys are calm," he explained.

"They are calm about what they do. They don't pay much attention to what is being said or written about them.

"We tried to get calmness around us, solidity around us, and to be something. That's all we want to be: to be something.


"What you saw was that solidity. When people are assessing Tipperary, sometimes I see the word 'flair' being mentioned. When I assess Tipperary I see the word 'character' first.

"Because you can't have flair without character. This team are really strong in terms of their character.

"That's the way it has to be. You can't get into an All-Ireland final unless the team has bundles of it."

That ... and talent.

You certainly can't get to an 
All-Ireland final without talent. And Tipp have oodles of that too.

From Séamus Callanan's pristine finishes for goals off both sides to Pádraic Maher's love for physical contact to 'Bonner' Maher's irrepressible drive ... Tipp have a bit of everything.

"Bonner was extraordinary today," gushed his manager.

"And the reason he was extraordinary was, he was injured early on in the game. And he played with a lot of pain.

"In fact, we could have taken him off earlier. But every time we wanted to take him off, he was showing for another ball.

"I mean the man is extraordinary, not just as an athlete. He's a phenomenal player. He plays the game the way it should be played."

And then there was Darren Gleeson.

Seven times in the first half, he went short-to-medium length with his 
puckouts, exposed the Cork half-forward line's disinclination to stand tight to their men, and set up attacks.

"Those of you who are in Tipperary know he is really good on puck-outs and really good on accuracy and he really brought his A game in terms of that today and the players worked really hard in terms of puck-outs.

"When the opposition play an extra man back at 6, which they do, and maybe two, there's pockets to be hit and you have to have the courage to hit them and I think he was outstanding today."

For Jimmy Barry-Murphy, the thing was clear-cut.


His team just didn't perform. No stage fright, no harping on about the 
five-week gap since the Munster final.

"I just think on the day we were comprehensively outplayed in many positions on the field," he said. "I think when you're playing a team of Tipperary's quality, you can't hope to win the game in that situation really."

"We were hoping for a goal and something to lift the crowd behind us. We never gave the crowd much to get behind us today.

"The lads are bitterly disappointed that they didn't produce their best display. It's always disappointing 
not to give your best. It's no fault of the lads.

"We've had some great days over the last few years, they did the county proud and just today unfortunately it was a poor one," Barry-Murphy admitted.

"That happens in sport."