Monday 18 December 2017

Delaney is 'easily' the best I've played with, says Tyrrell

Jackie Tyrrell, JJ Delaney and Eoin Murphy celebrate at the final whistle after beating Tipperary in the All-Ireland final replay. Photo: Dáire Brennan / SPORTSFILE
Jackie Tyrrell, JJ Delaney and Eoin Murphy celebrate at the final whistle after beating Tipperary in the All-Ireland final replay. Photo: Dáire Brennan / SPORTSFILE
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Jackie Tyrrell has hailed JJ Delaney as the greatest defender he has ever played with in the wake of his All-Ireland final replay performance last weekend.

Tyrrell, who has committed to at least another year in the black and amber colours, described his hook on Seamus Callanan as "typical JJ" and said he was "in my eyes, pound for pound, easily" the best defender on his watch.

Given that Tommy Walsh has been in front of him for the best part of a decade and Noel Hickey beside him for a fair portion of those years, it's quite a compliment but Delaney, in Tyrrell's estimation, rises above them.

JJ's 18th-minute hook was one of many memorable defensive moments that framed this replay and the eight-time All-Ireland medal winner admitted that conceding 29 scores, a championship record on Brian Cody's watch, was something that bothered them collectively for the previous three weeks.


"People probably got caught up in the hype of it being an unbelievable game and it was," said Tyrrell.

"But when you break it down to the hard facts, as a unit we probably didn't defend as well as we should.

"We have standards that we didn't get to that day but, lucky enough, our forwards pulled us through. I felt we could do an awful lot better and as a group we really targeted that," he said.

"I thought Tipperary were the better side the first day, but I also felt that as a team we could improve, more so as a defensive unit.

"I knew our forwards would produce their form so if we could tighten up a bit, get that 1-28 down to 1-20 or a 1-22, that we would have a great chance of winning it."

Tyrrell admitted that they have taken great pride as defenders in how they set about making those improvements and he cited the remarkable passage of play in the build-up to John Power's 49th-minute point as the best example.

"We got three or four blocks in, turned it around and John Power got a score. That's huge. That's like scoring a goal. But we do have standards. I was disappointed with my performance in the drawn game.

"I didn't think we defended as a unit, we defended as individuals. Whereas on Saturday we defended as a unit, we backed each other up.

"If you missed a ball there was a lad there right behind you and I thought ultimately that was the difference."

He also acknowledged the changes made between the drawn game and replay. "Padraig (Walsh) was soaring in the sky, you'd think it was a young Tommy Walsh.

"That was the big thing, to see who could improve the most. In fairness to Tipperary, they were so good the first day, what would you really change?

"We made the changes and the boys did the business. John Power with 1-1, Kieran Joyce 'man of the match' and Padraig probably ran him very close for it."

He admitted watching last year's All-Ireland championship unfold from a distance gave them perspective after contesting the previous seven finals but added that "if you need those kind of things to motivate you, you shouldn't be playing the game."

Tyrrell sees a bright future for a team that has been moulded by Brian Cody in a "sly, unique way".

"There was all the talk about lads being old and all that, but if you took myself and JJ off the starting 15 on Sunday, you would have had a very young team.


"In that kind of sly, unique way Brian (Cody) has moulded in another team to carry on again. Lads will sit back and enjoy this and then assess their own goals."

The 32-year-old wasn't exercised by comments from past players about the team that his manager drew reference to in an interview on Sunday.

"We didn't draw upon it and it wasn't really spoken about. To be honest, I don't know who he is talking about in that; obviously he copped it but it doesn't really bother me what they say.

"Maybe (there's) a bit of jealousy in it, I don't know.

"Whatever they want to say they can say, we just go out and do the business on the field."

Tyrrell said there was "absolutely no doubt" that he would be committing again for 2015 and expressed the hope that the entire squad would stay on.

Irish Independent

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