Sunday 20 October 2019

'I had to say very little' - Liam Sheedy on half-time chat before Tipperary blitzed the Cats

Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy celebrates with Willie Connors, left, and Brendan Maher following their side's victory
Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy celebrates with Willie Connors, left, and Brendan Maher following their side's victory

Sean McGoldrick

Tipperary boss Liam Sheedy acknowledged that Kilkenny faced an uphill battle after being reduced to 14 men before half time when Richie Hogan was sent off.

"Obviously to play a man down for such a long period is always going to be a difficult assignment," said Sheedy after his side's 3-25 to 0-20 All-Ireland victory in Croke Park.

He suggested his team, who eventually romped to a 14-point win, were gasping for air in the first quarter.

"We needed a goal when we got it, an individual piece of brilliance by Niall (O'Meara) and a great finish because Eoin Murphy is a hard man to pass. Obviously at half-time we probably felt we didn't find our flow in that first half, never got to the pitch of it.

"We spoke about what we wanted to achieve in the second half and the level of performance we wanted to find. That's such an honest group and they self-correct. Honestly I had to say very little.

"This all comes from inside the white lines, this all comes from this wonderful, wonderful group of players – they show maturity way beyond their years. They went out and the goal after half-time probably settled us.

"Once we got it settled and got a bit of a foothold. Whatever about playing a game a man down, when you start chasing it and you go seven or eight down, it's very difficult to claw it back. Look, it had a huge bearing on the game, no question, no question," he said.

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Sheedy, who shocked the hurling world in 2010 when he resigned as team boss weeks after Tipperary had ended Kilkenny's drive for five, said journalists had said it was risky to return to the hot seat last autumn.

"I committed to giving this group and this team 100 per cent, and what I got in return was 100 per cent back. Whether we won or whether we lost today, we had given everything we possibly could. I stood there at half three today knowing I had done everything I possibly could to get that team in the best shape of their lives.

"That was their work and the way they responded and thankfully we sit here at the end of 2019 as All-Ireland champions, so it's very pleasing from that perspective. This journey was never about me, it's all about the team and the back room team we put around them.

"They challenged the lads and the lads responded. Thankfully we got the benefit of that in terms of a performance today – and it wasn't a complete performance either.

"Some of the ball, we did not use the ball well for periods in that second half and we were very disappointed with that, myself and Eamon (O'Shea) were losing a bit of our grey hair on the sideline at times. But ultimately when they did move it and move it well they were exceptional. So I'm just thrilled," he said.

John 'Bubbles' O'Dwyer, whose 43rd-minute goal put the final beyond the reach of the Cats, said it would take time for the magnitude of their victory in sink in.

"This is my second one and it's after taking us three years to get back again, so they're moments that you cherish.

"It probably looked comfortable because they went down to 14 men, but it wasn't. After we got our second goal, Kilkenny came with a bit of a barrage. They attacked into the full-forward line with TJ (Reid) there. It wasn't simple.

"The scores didn't come too easy like. We worked hard. That was one of our pillars, to work hard and make sure that just because they were down to fourteen men that we didn't take our foot off the pedal," added O'Dwyer.

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