'Devastated' Tipp skipper Pádraic Maher criticises referee Barry Kelly
TIPPERARY captain Pádraic Maher was left “absolutely devastated” by Sunday’s narrow one-point defeat against Galway in the All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final.
And the Thurles Sarsfields man says that referee Barry Kelly “was a bit harsh” on the Premier County – a reflection echoed by county board chairman Michael Bourke.
Speaking to Tipp FM, Maher said: “Absolutely devastated – the lads gave it everything.
“I think we did the Tipperary jersey proud. The result didn’t go our way but it was an unbelievable (Joe Canning) core to win the match, on the sideline with five Tipp jerseys ahead of him and he still got the shot off.
“Devastated, we had a load of goal chances. I know Galway had a couple as well – it could have gone either way.”
On referee Kelly, Maher said: “I felt Barry Kelly was a bit harsh on us.
“There were a few times when I felt the 50-50 ones, he was giving Galway and he’d even give the 60-40 ones we had against us.
“That’s only a small thing, nothing in it. Again, the lads gave absolutely everything. We couldn’t give any more.
“It’s going to be tough for the next couple of weeks but we’ll get back into the club games and hopefully the pain will ease away after that.”
Bourke is hopeful that his Upperchurch-Drombane clubmate Michael Ryan will stay on as Tipperary manager for a third season.
And he said: “Three years now, and one point between the sides.
“It just shows where Galway are and where we are.
“It was neck and neck, nothing in it, a break one way or the other.
“We feel we didn’t get the rub of the green from the referee either – 18 frees to eight I’m told is the count. It’s very hard to win a game like that.
“Bizarre, and again, it wasn’t dirty. It was a tough, physical game but we have to live with it. That bunch of guys are here for the future.”
Bourke added: “From my point of view, as chairman, I’d be hopeful that they (management) are the men to lead us forward.
“The shift they put in for the last two years has been phenomenal.
“Good days and bad days – this is a low day but they’re here for the betterment of Tipperary. They have a squad of players together that can work and be back here again.”
There may be additions to and exclusions from the Tipperary squad ahead of the 2018 season but Bourke wants continuity.
He said: “There’s always room for change but once the leaders stay the same, you work with that. That will be Mick’s call at the end of the day.”
Tipperary top brass could be in a position to clarify Ryan’s position at the September county board meeting – with Bourke also indicating that former All-Star Liam Cahill is the “frontrunner” to step up from the minor ranks to take charge of the U21s.
And captain Maher spoke of the “strong bond” in the Tipp camp, revealing a huge motivation to produce a big performance last Sunday.
He said: “This group has taken so much stick this year, the management has taken so much stick.
“We wanted to go out there and prove we’re a good team, a really together bunch.
“There’s great unity and even in the dressing room afterwards, there was a really strong bond within the group.
“We left everything out there. A couple of things could have won the game but we’re picking at straws there. We couldn’t have done any more for the jersey.”
And Maher is backing Galway to finish the job now – and claim a first All-Ireland senior crown since 1988.
He said: “Galway are a good team and have been threatening in the last few years.
“It now seems that this year could be their year.”
And Bourke has credited manager Ryan with setting high standards for the players to aspire to.
He added: “If you want to achieve anything in life, you have to set the standards and the more you want to achieve, the higher the standards you have to set.
“In the dressing room, the players spoke about the standards set and Tipperary will succeed with those standards.”