JAMES WOODLOCK says the Tipperary hurlers had been left to paddle their own canoe this summer - but they have now responded to the criticism that followed their early Munster exit by reaching the last-four stage in the race for Liam MacCarthy.
The Tipperary midfielder still reckons the quality of their hurling is "on the floor" - an unwitting indictment of Dublin's performance yesterday - but he's happy to be still in contention even while they struggle for the fluency required of champions.
The Tipp panel came in for some searing local criticism in the wake of their defeat by Limerick in June, the third consecutive championship blank for manager Eamon O'Shea.
Woodlock touched on that criticism yesterday when he remarked: "We're under no illusions, it's only ourselves and whoever is in that dressing-room that is paddling this canoe.
"There was no one here for us in the last couple of weeks after the Limerick game. In fairness to the Tipp public, they came out and supported us against Galway and got us over the line when we went six points down.
"But enough had been (written) about us to cut the back off us, I suppose, since the Limerick game.
"But we just work away and we know we have the hurlers in there," the Drom & Inch clubman continued. "We lost against Limerick but we were in the game the whole way - that's the way it was, it was just a puck of the ball.
"We're back now, we're into an All-Ireland semi-final, we're in the same position as Limerick are and Cork are."
However, Woodlock rejected the notion that the pressure is now off Tipp ahead of their August 17 semi-final against Cork. "No, absolutely not," he maintained.
"I think the pressure is still on us, and I think our hurling is still on the floor. That performance out there today, I'm sure the management won't be happy (with) and the players aren't happy."