Ryan may pay price for sacrificial tactic

Watching Kilkenny disembowel Tipperary in the second-half yesterday, a quote from acclaimed TV series The Wire sprang to mind.

Drugs gang henchman Sergey’s mobile is tapped by the Baltimore police and they catch his conversation with a concerned dealer about a dead body.

“Did he have a head? Did he have hands? Yes? Then it wasn’t us.”

With Kilkenny’s unmerciful clawing, Tipperary were left missing body parts by the time Cathal McAllister put them out of their misery. But then just how much of their dismemberment was self-inflicted?

The idea of using Lar Corbett as a marker on Tommy Walsh backfired spectacularly and made a mockery of the man’s reputation as a sharpshooter of the highest order.

Remember, going into last year’s All-Ireland final, Corbett was Tipperary’s scorer-in-chief. Had he fallen so far in 11 months?

The answer is no but then Corbett has played quite the sacrificial role this summer, almost as if he was compensating for those months he opted out of the panel earlier in the year. However, he should never have went along with such a tactic given the lack of logic in it.

When Dan Shanahan had his spectacular autumn of his career, he was never asked by Justin McCarthy to do anything he wasn’t already good at even when he had the odd bad day.

Similarly, just because Jackie Tyrrell got the better of Corbett, who had also been making hay in the third quarter of his career, on one occasion shouldn’t have scared Tipperary into morphing into a player he wasn’t.

Last year, Corbett was the butt of a text joke about being in Tyrrell’s back pocket.

Last night, the text read: “Pandemonium in the Kilkenny dressing room — Lar just followed Tommy into the shower.”

Just like their team are with their hurling, Kilkenny supporters are ruthless with their words. The Corbett decision by management alone could compel Declan Ryan to realise he has reached his end of days as the main man.

With his two-year term now up, there is unlikely to be much appetite to give him an extension when lessons clearly haven’t been learned.

Just like in last year’s All-Ireland final, Tipperary had no way of improving the quality of ball into their forward line.

It was they who were supposed to be the hungrier ones given the impact of the final defeat last year. It was they whose blades should have been sharper and yet they had to climb back from an early five-point deficit.

That was a warning sign that wasn’t heeded given Tipperary recovered to go into the break one point ahead.

The physicality they exerted in the game breached the line, more so than Kilkenny who are the masters of treading that fringe.

Similar to Waterford in the 2008 All-Ireland final, Tippmake little ground with over-aggression. What they presented was nothing close to the controlled intensity Galway showed in the Leinster final.

Yes, Ryan has won two Munster titles but the province Tipp find themselves in next May or June will be a completely different environment to the one they have enjoyed this past while.

For all the graft done in Bere Island a few weeks ago, for all the toil in Semple Stadium these past few months and all that money spent on preparing them, it came to nothing in the second 35 minutes yesterday.

As if we didn’t know already, Tipperary aren’t Kilkenny. They can’t peak for every game — they have to build towards something.

We saw that in 2010 when, after the shock of losing to Cork first day out in Munster, they gradually grew and grew through the qualifiers, into the quarter-final and semi-final before unleashing themselves on Kilkenny.

There’s little doubt Ryan would have anticipated to meet Kilkenny in an All-Ireland final rather than a semi-final.

Were they caught on the hop to a certain extent by the Cats’ Leinster final defeat? Was Bere Island an attempt to accelerate the preparation work against their greatest foes?

The soundings from the Tipperary camp were all so positive in recent weeks. But then they had been right up until September 4 last year.

Now, as much as Ryan, the likes of Brendan Cummins, Paul Curran, Eoin Kelly and John O’Brien will be left consider their futures.

Only the return of Nicky English or possibly the team of Liam Sheedy, Eamon O’Shea and Michael Ryan would convince them all to realise there is still something worth fighting for.

When Sheedy came on board in late 2007, old-timers like Eamonn Corcoran were thrilled that he laid out short-term goals.

Although the under-age grades continue to produce, with Limerick, Cork and Clare now making Munster a more hostile place for them, attaining such aims will be incredibly more difficult.

And what of the psychological stranglehold Kilkenny now have over them?

Tipperary need a surgeon.


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