By Jackie Cahill
A devastated Eamon O’Shea has insisted that Tipperary will regroup under new management next year.
O’Shea’s three-year tenure as Premier County supremo ended at Croke Park earlier today with defeat against Galway in the All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final.
But at a highly-charged and emotional post-match press conference, a tearful O’Shea backed his successor Michael Ryan to pick up the baton successfully.
He said: “I had my innings with Tipp. It was great. We did what we could. We tried to play the game in a particular way. There are men in Tipperary who can carry this on.
“I just feel that we gave it everything every time we went out. We tried to win. We didn't always win.
“We were beaten by a point, beaten by three points. It doesn't look great sometimes but we did our utmost to win these games.
“I said to the players, the belief I have in them and the belief I have that they can continue and go on and grow better when I'm not there is really strong.
“Somebody else will go on and do this better than I did. That's all you can do.
“I'm old enough now to know that I had a real good shot at it.
“I had a real good shot and I really, really tried to play the game the way I wanted to play the game and the way they wanted to play the game.
“In one sense I feel emotional, obviously losing is huge, but it's theirs, it's the players' game. Me leaving is only a footnote. It will be only a footnote.”
Meanwhile, Galway boss Anthony Cunningham is now aiming to go one step better than 2012, when the Tribesmen lost the All-Ireland final replay to Kilkenny.
And today’s epic one-point victory erased the memories of last year’s All-Ireland qualifier defeat to Tipp, when Galway blew a six-point lead in the final 20 minutes and lost by nine at Semple Stadium.
Cunningham reflected: “It was a game that had everything really.
“We had a sucker punch at the start (Seamus Callanan’s goal in the first minute) but we hurled really well.
“We were winning in more positions than them after that but then we had a sucker punch again, Seamus Callanan, then a third one.
“We came back from that, there were fantastic saves on both sides - a penalty over the bar, a penalty on our side saved by the Tipp goalie, a super save.
“It was a game that had everything. We’re delighted and really looking forward to the final.”
Cunningham hailed the character of his players to bounce back from potential killer blows throughout the game.
He added: “Yeah, and experience, which we’re picking up along the way.
“This is a young team and you only get experience out there in a tight battle.
“Shane Maloney came on there, missed the first one, which was probably scoreable, but he had the composure to hang around and wait, and he got the breaking ball for the score.”