Glass half-full for Ryan as Tipp ramp up preparations
Tipperary manager Michael Ryan is keeping the good side out. One read of their league campaign is that they faced off against Kilkenny once more in a national final and came up short.
That result added another layer to an already worrying statistic. The sides have now met ten times in deciders in the last decade and Tipperary have come out on top just twice.
There is no shame in that given that the Cats built a team for the ages over that period. But this year's league final defeat felt significant as the Premier fell to a Kilkenny side that was filled with new faces and had struggled for traction early on, losing the first two rounds.
It felt like a chance to lay down a marker against their great rivals. However, when opportunity knocked, Tipp weren't at home and Brian Cody had inflicted yet more misery on Tipp.
However, Ryan is more positive. He insists that, for the most part, the league gave them what they needed, not least the blooding of new players ahead of the revamped Munster Championship.
"You know, for us, and I did make this point on the day, it was still a very good league for us," Ryan said at the launch of the Munster football and hurling championships in Bunratty Folk Park in Clare.
"We started earlier. We certainly used as many as we possibly could, so in terms of experience our boys are well ready.
"I don't think any of them will be panicking if they get a tap on the shoulder to go in there, be it the first round game or whatever game in the Munster Championship and that was the whole point of the league.
"Look, we never like to lose a final. And we certainly never like to lose a final or any game to our nearest and dearest rivals, Kilkenny.
"But, look, it's a point in time, it's done, we need to look ahead and that's the only direction we're looking at, at the moment."
Ryan dismissed the notion that the defeat represented some sort of mental fragility on the part of his side. Instead, he suggested that Kilkenny's ability to play for the entire game was their greatest strength. And that was the single biggest lesson his side could take from the defeat.
"So the learnings are, don't make it close," he said. "Let's start with that one. Get out ahead, get well ahead, and win the games we're supposed to win.
"Look, every game has a life of its own. We can certainly look back on that game… small things add up. Kilkenny do what they do best, play for 70-plus minutes. That is the single biggest feather in their cap that the rest of us strive for.
"I don't think that is disingenuous to any other competitor - they are the market leaders in that. And have been. On top of quality players - we all have quality players - that is the single biggest differentiator between Kilkenny and the rest of us."
Tipp were without star man Seamus Callanan for the league but he made a return to competitive action over the weekend with his club Drom and Inch.
Ryan insists he is on the right road despite his lengthy recovery.
"To be honest with you, we were hoping that he would have caught the back end of the league but you know, you can't legislate for recovery times. Very much, one size doesn't fit all.
"The important thing is that he is recovered. And any of the lads they are all the same."
However, it's not all good news for Tipperary. Michael Cahill picked up a hamstring injury in action for Thurles Sarsfields with Ryan unsure of his chances of making their championship opener against Limerick on May 20.
"We need a definitive prognosis of how he is. We are hoping he got off in time.
"It never looks good when you see a guy going off putting ice on a hamstring.
"That's not a good sign, but look, we knew this was a risk. We just have to wait and see. Three weeks is still a fair bit of time for a soft-tissue injury.
"And long as it's not a grade one. If it's a little bit easier than that, then it's okay."
There will be comings and goings before that first game against Limerick and with the hectic schedule; there are sure to be more on the treatment table before the Munster series is completed.
However it pans out, Ryan believes his side will be ready.
"We were the ones in the league final. I'll point that one out first. Realistically, there was 10 teams eligible to get there - we got there. Talk to the rest of them.
"I'm happy enough where we are at in it."