Tipperary manager Michael Ryan has described the one-match ban handed down to John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer for his Munster semi-final red card as “extreme”, writes Jackie Cahill.
O’Dwyer will pay a heavy price for lashing out at Richie English as he sits out next Sunday’s provincial decider against Waterford.
Tipp were down to 14 men from the 14th minute against Limerick but still managed to come through with plenty to spare.
But O’Dwyer was excellent down the home straight against Waterford in last year’s Munster final and against a disciplined Déise defence, with another year of experience under their belts, his scoring prowess will be sorely missed.
Ryan will reveal his starting 15 for the Gaelic Grounds clash tomorrow evening (Friday), with Jason Forde, Niall O’Meara and Sean Curran the leading contenders to step in - but he insists that the punishment for O'Dwyer doesn't fit the crime.
Midfielder Michael Breen revealed after the Limerick win that O'Dwyer put his disappointment to one side for a few moments to deliver a stirring half-time speech.
This is Bubbles O'Dwyer's reaction to that red card. pic.twitter.com/tvk7Jpvq0J— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) June 19, 2016
And Ryan revealed: "I have spoken to him (O'Dwyer).
"I missed the speech. I'm delighted he did (speak) as it was a contribution and it was as much as he could do at the time.
“The sending off was unfortunate, red mist or whatever it takes to make a poor decision and look at the consequences - a Munster Final and he can't take any part. The punishment and the crime, I always ask myself about that.
“I'm not advocating more rule changes or black cards but I feel for the half a second of madness, the punishment is extreme but those are the rules.
"John has held his hands up, he made a mistake and got caught. Thankfully it didn't cost the team."
Meanwhile, Ryan is also anticipating an open and attractive Munster senior final against the Déise.
Waterford are expected to employ their usual sweeper system but Ryan still believes that patrons in Limerick will be entertained.
And he insisted that the venue will have no impact on the game whatsoever, as Waterford campaigned for Limerick this time, having opted for Thurles last year.
Ryan said: “Did the pitch ever win you a match? Does the wind ever win you a match? It really doesn't.
"It's down to what you do, how the players adapt, how quickly they settle, who's going to win the key battles, the usual signals we all recognise.
“That's what will tell us who is going to win this match. We've just got to try and figure them out in advance."
But Ryan is expecting a ferocious challenge from a Waterford team he believes are in a far better place to challenge for a first provincial senior crown since 2010.
“Waterford are a bigger, stronger team, and in terms of the quality of the players that have come through this year.
"Take Shane Bennett who would have started at (number) 11, a top quality player, very exciting player.
“Obviously they are stronger having Pauric Mahony back and he is a renowned free-taker but they have a few free-takers, Maurice Shanahan takes frees and is accomplished as well.
"This is a really good Waterford team. I would struggle to find a weak area in that team.
“Our own level of performance will have to go up a couple of notches, this is game on.
"Waterford will feel exactly as we do about this Munster Championship, they want to win it so do we.
'Take that as your starting point, that is a great place to be coming from.
"Even though there is a safety net, nobody wants it.
“This is going to be an attacking game; I expect it to be an attacking game from both sides."
Ryan, a traditionalist at heart, has his own particular views on modern-day systems.
He smiled: “Book in, because this will take a long time to discuss my views of defensive styles.
“I don't think you could say there is a particular style.
“I think what really drives what we would call systems or that is the type of player that is available.
“Teams that you meet, you obviously look at their strengths and what you need to do to negate those, obviously up front most of the time, you are not usually concerned with what they do in the back line.
“It's what they are going to do to you in terms of damaging limitation for your own backs.
“It reflects more on the players. Would you fear hugely if you were caught five on five at the back if you trusted the pace of the guys? I think you would.
“It depends on what you have got.
“A few years ago (2014), and the lads won't mind me saying it, we were in a bind where in a league match we had Paddy Stapleton at full-back (Cathal Barrett and Michael Cahill played in the corners).
“Paddy would give you his heart to defend but we ended up with a really small full-back line, just through the availability of players, and we played a huge price against Galway who had big guys and rattled in three goals. That is an extreme example.
“I think it has got to do with the players in your own squad and their strengths and how comfortable they are with space.
“My own preference, I really like the traditional game with six at the back and six up front.
“You take Kilkenny over the last number of years, they always had six up front, not if they required the ball to be won, they'd be back in the middle third (but) any team would flood back their players to gain possession or to stop momentum against them.”