'Babs' criticises Sheedy over Cork collapse

Former Tipperary manager Michael 'Babs' Keating is not unfamiliar with launching post-match broadsides, and he unsurprisingly decided to shoot from the hip when reviewing Sunday's Munster SHC quarter-final defeat to Cork.

His successor in the Tipperary role, Liam Sheedy, will have 'clear the air' talks with his players before they resume training this evening.

The 3-15 to 0-14 reversal represents Tipperary's heaviest Championship loss since the 2003 All-Ireland semi-final against Kilkenny, and Cork's biggest Championship win over the Premier county since 1942.

How Sheedy's men recover from their Pairc Ui Chaoimh pummeling will reveal much about the mental make-up of a Tipp side that has won two Munster titles and a National League crown in the past two seasons, as well as reaching last year's All-Ireland final.

Keating, who emerged trophyless from his second spell as Tipp manager between 2005 and 2007, admitted that given the even nature of the counties' previous Championship meetings, he expected a big showing from Cork.

In an interview with TV3 Sport, he praised Cork manager Denis Walsh and his squad for "the way they manipulated the situation" and in particular, for how much the management have brought on fledgling full-forward Aisake O hAilpin who scored 1-1 and was a constant threat in and around the Tipperary square.

Keating conceded that his native county are facing up to a huge task if they are to match last year's run and qualify for their second successive All-Ireland final.

"There's plenty of hurling to be played but Sunday's result means there's going to be a harder road. If Tipp are to come through, they're going to meet either Waterford, Galway or Kilkenny along the way," he said.

"I don't think the players that have failed Tipperary for the last number of years will relish meeting them all and beating them all.

"If they were lucky enough to come through Munster and worry about facing just one of the top teams to win an All-Ireland, but to have to face a couple of them again will make life very difficult for Tipperary."

Keating drew on his own experiences of managing a good number of the current Tipperary players when pointing out how the class of 2010 can improve.

In 2007, he dropped goalkeeper Brendan Cummins and attacking ace Eoin Kelly from the team and suggested that Sheedy would benefit from some consultation with the previous management team.

"The decisions that myself, Tom Barry and John Leahy made managing the team four and five years ago, we made those decisions in the best interests of the people paying the money and wearing the blue and gold going in the gate.

"We made the unpopular decisions but I promise you, we made those decisions in Tipperary's best interests.

"I think if Liam and his selectors sat down with us at that stage for a couple of hours - they needn't neccessarily have taken our ideas on board - that he could have taken a few shortcuts along the way and he'd be in a better position today than he is."

Keating also said that Sheedy made a mistake in throwing Championship debutant Brian O'Meara in at full-forward for the Munster Championship opener.

"It's impossible to invent new players into the campaign. Liam did it with the young full-forward, I don't think it was fair on him.

"I don't think you can introduce a young lad at full-forward against Cork on a big Munster Championship day and hope to succeed. It has never happened.

"I'm an observer of Tipperary hurling for the last 12 All-Irelands that they've won, and the rules have not changed. The principle is the same - you control half-back, centre-field, half-forward and make things happen and play with discipline.

"I have a recipe for success. You have to have speed and stamina, style and skill and if you haven't the killer instinct to go with that, you won't win."

There was no evidence of that from Tipp's half-forward unit of Noel McGrath, Seamus Callanan and John O'Brien on Sunday. They scored just three points between them and were comfortably beaten by the hungrier Cork half-backs - particularly in the second half.

Many will legitimately argue that this was just a bad day at the office for Tipp and that they have the ability to turn things around in the All-Ireland qualifiers, but Keating argued that past failings, from his time in charge, are still there.

"Those of us that have been observing Tipperary have been critical of the half-forward line in particular, and saying look, this half-forward line and centre-field isn't strong enough to match what is going to emerge," explained the Ardfinnan man.

"And that was proven in last year's All-Ireland. I think if we had won there we would have won an All-Ireland last year.

"As one responsible for coaching and particularly with John Leahy and myself a couple of years ago, all the mistakes that have been made...we would have hammered those home night in, night out.

"Take the goal that Lar Corbett missed on Sunday - we missed three of them in last year's All-Ireland because those guys did not take on board the advice they were given.

"If (Pat) Fox or (Nicky) English got the opportunity that Lar Corbett got on Sunday, it would have been a definite green flag.

"If Fox or English got the opportunity to score three goals like last year's All-Ireland, they would be goals, and we wouldn't be making heroes out of goalkeepers like PJ Ryan or Donal Og Cusack. This is where this team is lacking."

Keating reckons that Sheedy needs to react sharply to that and add some 'steel' to his side ahead of the qualifiers - otherwise last year's All-Ireland runners-up will suffer a hugely disappointing summer.

"Until such time that we get a grasp of what half-forward and centre-field play is about, and add what is typical Tipperary hurling, which is a good bit of steel, I don't think we're going to come back winning again."


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