Tuesday 21 January 2020

Tipp seeking to solve mystery of five-week semi-final wait

Michael Ryan. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Michael Ryan. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

For the last four years, a manager has been asked the same question after an All-Ireland hurling semi-final defeat: did the five-week lay-off have a negative impact?

The answer has always been along similar lines: "it's impossible to say for sure".

The speakers have all been from Munster champions after presiding over teams that had looked so good down south, only to fail in Croke Park.

Tipperary (2015), Cork (2014), Limerick (2013) and Tipperary (2012) were beaten in semi-finals, the latter three by a combined total of 35 points.

Tipperary lost by a point to Galway last year but, if anything, that only added to the devastation.

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Delve further back and there's little more southern comfort as Cork in 2005 were the last Munster champions to win the All-Ireland title.

Ten of the last 16 Munster champions were beaten in the semi-finals, while two of the six winners were taken to replays and two others won by a point, underlining how difficult they found it to get over the next hurdle.

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Having been aboard Eamon O'Shea's management team, Tipperary boss Michael Ryan knows from last year's experience that managing the five-week gap is tricky.

Speaking after the Munster final win over Waterford last month, he said that it was "exactly at this time last year, we fell flat".

Ryan admitted it was an aspect that had been discussed within the management group months ago.

"We agonised a lot over it during the winter months in terms of 'did we miss out on something from the Munster final to All-Ireland semi-final?'

"It's a funny time to manage. There is only the Kilkennys of this world who have it nailed.

Read more: Replay record guarantees nothing for Cats - Fogarty

"They arrive on All-Ireland semi-final day right. The rest of us sometimes get it right; more often than not we've got it wrong. That's the challenge for us," he said.

Kilkenny's wobble last Sunday re-opened the debate on the effects of a five-week wait, adding to Tipperary's nervousness for Sunday's test against a Galway team that will have had a more manageable three-week gap since beating Clare.

It has been a long, drawn-out campaign for Tipperary, who beat Cork on May 22, before waiting four weeks for the Munster semi-final with Limerick on June 19. That was followed by a further four-week interval before the final, before heading into a five-week wait for Sunday's game.

Tipperary were the last Munster champions to win a semi-final, beating Dublin by four points in 2011.

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