Tipp face the music, but Galway must postpone songwriting

On the way home from the Gaelic Grounds yesterday, I was snaking my way out the Ennis Road in my car when I saw Conor Hayes at the side of the road.

Tipp face the music, but Galway must postpone songwriting

He was looking at his phone, so I spotted my opportunity, rolled down the window and summoned my best Micheal Ó Muircheartaigh accent: “Who will be the next Galway man to lift Liam MacCarthy after Conor Hayes?” I roared.

“Hey, kid, how’s the form?” Conor shouted back.

Galway have been waiting nearly three decades now for someone to follow Conor, but maybe David Burke will finally be that man in September.

Galway certainly have the potential. They showed yesterday that they have nearly everything else; power, physicality, firepower, pace, class. Yet they have been down this road before and need to make sure they learn from past failings this time.

I met Paul Killeen’s parents on the way out of the grounds. I know them from my time managing Paul with the LIT freshers a few years back.

I was actually sitting beside them when Paul made his debut in the championship. They were delighted yesterday, along with everyone else from Galway, but I had to sound the warning.

“I hope there won’t be any songs written about Galway this week,” I said. There won’t be but, Paul’s parents, and everyone else, knows what I am talking about.

The hype was in full swing on the pitch after such a blistering performance, but I think, and hope, that this time will be different. I got that impression from listening to separate interviews with Micheal Donoghue and Joe Canning afterwards. All they were talking about was May 28 and Dublin in Tullamore.

After last year’s Leinster final, Ger Loughnane cut loose on Galway. He called the players ‘gutless’ before rounding on Donoghue, comparing him to Fr Trendy, the Dermot Morgan character from RTÉ in the 1980s. Loughnane tried to portray Micheal as “amiable curate coming into a new parish”. Well, Ger got that one wrong, because that is the last thing Donoghue is; he has proven since that there is a cut and an edge to his approach, which is being reflected by his players on the pitch.

Galway are huge men, but they are steely guys as well. There is a lot more to being a man of character than being a hard and tough hurler. It’s as much a mindset as anything else, something which Frank Lohan always reminded me of. Frank was a hardy boyo, but he had the mind of a golfer; live in the now, always get back to the immediate. Too often in the past, we saw Galway lads dropping their heads when things went against them. Tipperary didn’t ask them any of those questions yesterday, but I think Micheál has made a conscious decision to go with guys he can trust, as opposed to the silky, classy hurlers that often dominated Galway teams in the past. Galway still have loads of those players, but there is an iron fist beneath the silk glove now.

Galway were bang on, but how flat were Tipp? I’m fed up of saying it now, but the system is a joke. In March, we had games of championship intensity, where everyone was fighting for their lives in Division 1A.

Now, the last three winners have come from 1B. The longer the competition went on, the worse the standard got. Surely now it is time for a change.

Tipp know — well they will hope — that this was a once off. Mick Ryan will believe that the two Mahers, Padraic and Ronan, won’t be as peripheral again.

They will physically ratchet it up and let rip in the championship, but can Mick have the same peace of mind about his full-back line?

I know that Cathal Barrett and, to a lesser extent, Micky Cahill, are returning from injuries, but to ship 2-6 from Jason Flynn and Conor Whelan is something that will exercise Mick’s mind a lot.

So will plenty of other stuff. The half-forward line was annihilated. ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer was non-existent.

Everyone was using ‘Bubbles’ as an example of Tipp’s depth when Seamie Callanan got injured, but you can’t just flick a switch either and expect form to return with a starting jersey on your back.

I still think Tipp are the best team in the country, but a lot of fellas need to ask themselves hard questions this morning: “Do I want it badly enough? What am I prepared to do to ensure this doesn’t happen again?”

Mick will analyse everything forensically, including his own approach. He has been keeping everything tight all season. To me, there is an element of putting manners on fellas, as if he is going out of his way to keep guys consistently on their toes.

Everyone wants to abide by that principle but Mick had a formula which worked last year and maybe he needs to return to it.

Galway will have concerns too, but they are at the other end of the scale now. Some pundits might say that they didn’t need to win the league in this manner, because it could spiral the hype out of control but all of that is manageable.

Galway can only take positives out of this performance. If anything, it should be an example to them of what they can achieve if they maximise their potential.

The Galway forwards were on fire, but they will all be looking over their shoulders with Johnny Glynn and Conor Cooney trying to get into the starting 15.

In the past, you could picture the songwriters moulding triumphant words together after a win like this, but Donoghue will drown out everything, as he and his players seek to finally get David Burke up those steps in September.

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