Monday 18 December 2017

'This team will win All-Irelands'

Tipperary's Padraic Maher shows his dejection after the game. Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Tipperary's Padraic Maher shows his dejection after the game. Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Dermot Crowe

Eamon O'Shea came to the media room for early and sombre reflections on a disappointing end to Tipperary's season, knowing the sorcery they managed three weeks earlier had been missing.

The best of their hurling came in the first half before they were suffocated by a thick blanket of Kilkenny defending. After the scoring spree that saw his team produce 1-24 from play on day one, this was a more conservative affair, with stricter policing, with O'Shea's counterpart Brian Cody applauded for his astute backline surgery.

Two players who were restored to the Kilkenny team, Kieran Joyce and Padraig Walsh, gave inspiring performances as their county won a 35th All-Ireland title, leaving them nine clear of Tipperary. It was a defender's day. In the first half there were glimpses of the attacking play which O'Shea has championed, and the goal from Seamus Callanan was a textbook example, but they were dominated after the break to the point where there wasn't a whole to say left to say when he came to sit down and explain what he thought had happened.

O'Shea said: "Kilkenny deserved the win. The game was played on their terms. When this game is played on someone's terms, they usually win and that is what happened today. There is always hope until the referee blows the final whistle. This team will always have hope. I think they have been on a great journey this year.

"They should be proud of themselves in terms of where they have come from and what they've brought to the party. I think they fought with honour. We were defeated today but the nucleus of this team will go on and win All-Irelands in my view."

He focused on the positives without being deluded. "We had a good three weeks and obviously our game plan did not work out, the way we wanted to play, and that is to the opposition's credit. They imposed their will and they are a formidable team. They are really an outstanding team. We believe we are a very good team. Today we did not get the best out of ourselves. But my belief is that we left the championship in a better place (than we started). We worked really hard to get ourselves up to the top level and we actually were at that level for one game.

"I know how hard the team worked to get as good as they got. They certainly are a credit to sport, they are a credit to Tipperary hurling, even though they did not get the result they wanted today."

Asked if it would be hard for the team to come back, having come so close, he remained upbeat about their prospects and felt that meaningful progress had been made. "I do think there are more important things (than winning). They are men who fought the battle to the end. Things did not go our way and yet the team kept going. And that is my understanding of sport and what it's about. Sometimes you don't always win. The way Tipp play now, we try until it's no longer possible. I am shattered we did not win. But it does not take anything from what was a supreme effort."

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