Monday 16 September 2019

Tipperary used half-time to discuss where Wexford went wrong with extra man in semi-final

Colin Fennelly of Kilkenny is tackled by Cathal Barrett of Tipperary
Colin Fennelly of Kilkenny is tackled by Cathal Barrett of Tipperary

Tony Considine

Brendan Cummins has pointed to the lessons that Tipperary learned from having to cope with being a man down in their All-Ireland semi-final as key to their victory over 14-man Kilkenny in Sunday's final.

There was little between the teams before the sending-offs in both games but while John McGrath's red in the semi seemed to revitalise Tipp and spook Wexford, it was the opposite on Sunday.

From being a point ahead approaching half-time, Tipp used the break to ensure they didn't repeat Wexford's mistakes. Instead, they used Richie Hogan's red as a springboard to dominate the second half with the Cats ultimately floundering as the Premier used the extra space to devastating effect.

And how the sides utilised that half-time break was vital according to the man who was between the posts for the first of Liam Sheedy's two-in-a-row back in 2010.

"When you lose a man like in the Wexford game, it's like trying to fix a plane in the air, it's a very hard thing to do. Wexford had a numerical advantage against Tipp but they had no break in play to fix it," Cummins explained on Independent.ie's The Throw-In GAA podcast in association with Bord Gais Energy..

"I know from talking to the Tipp lads last night that they had a chat about all the things that Wexford did wrong with the spare man.

"So they played Cathal Barrett on the edge of the D. They got him to screen in front of Fennelly and on any high ball he wasn't going to go up for it, he was going to take on the break.

"That gave Barry Heffernan, Ronan Maher and all those lads the opportunity to attack the ball and they knew if they missed it, it didn't matter, there was a man on the ground to sweep it up."

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While Tipp had that experience to lean on, Cummins was surprised by the Kilkenny reaction as they reverted to type, despite recent performances which indicated the ability to change things up. And the five-time All-Star also believes the manner in which Tipp applied the pressure was reminiscent of a Cody team at their peak in a way that may be beyond the current incarnation.

"You take the other side, what was going on in the Kilkenny dressing room for those 15 minutes?" he asked.

"It was probably a case of 'lads, we'll go long, we'll go long' and that's kind of what you do at club level, you flog it onto the edge of the square and hope to get an old break somewhere. I thought they might say 'look lads, we'll start to run the ball a little bit, we'll get it to within 50 yards of the Tipperary goal and then we'll play it in and beat the sweeper'.

"Let's be honest, Kilkenny have played against Wexford for the last few years, they've played against teams with sweepers and done quite well against them by playing round the channels. We'd actually said Brian Cody had adapted.

"But I just think that Tipperary were so dominant and had Kilkenny so punch-drunk in that second half that Kilkenny lost the run of themselves. Paddy Deegan was lobbing in balls, Cillian Buckey was doing the same thing.

"They got all caught up in it and when Tipperary were able to work the ball out shoulder high, the assassins inside killed Kilkenny and took the game away from them in a way that Kilkenny would have taken it away from us back when I was playing. It was over in ten minutes and that was that."

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