Let’s call a spade a spade here, the only positive from yesterday’s double-header in Thurles was the crowd of 43,088.
Even the weather deteriorated at the end of the second game, though it was still nowhere near as bad as the two games we witnessed.
When you come to Thurles for All-Ireland quarter-final day you expect good hurling. We didn’t get that. To be fair to Limerick and Tipperary it wasn’t their fault. Their respective opposition simply weren’t up to it.
Before delving into the two games I want to briefly mention the courteous nature of all the stewards, officials and groundsmen at Thurles yesterday. They were fantastic to interact with and really added to the occasion.
To the first game and what really sums up the one-sided nature of this contest is that Limerick didn’t lose a single battle on the field. They were dominant in every position, although credit must be given to Wexford’s Diarmuid O’Keefe who tried very hard and hit three points.
Limerick played hurling the way it should be played. Their distribution was direct and their forwards, Dowling and Mulcahy in particular, thrived as a result. David Breen was probably the most important Limerick player on the field. His workrate and movement on and off the ball was superb.
Limerick have learned from last year. The hype which greeted their 2013 Munster final win contributed to the downfall of this team last summer. They are in a better place now returning to the semis.
Wexford manager Liam Dunne said afterwards that the three games over the three previous weekends had taken their toll. TJ Ryan empathised with him. That is rubbish and not an acceptable or valid reason for the Wexford performance. Let people not be making excuses for this Wexford display.
There was nothing made of the flow of games before this encounter and it is being put out there now as an excuse given the nature of the scoreline. Rubbish. Wexford were simply not good enough. They were out of their depth. 4-26 to 0-11. I don’t care if you were playing hurling every day of the week, you still shouldn’t get that level of a performance at the end of it. This result will set Wexford back.
The second game was almost as bad as the first in the sense that there was no intensity. People in the crowd were yawning. Tipp hurled well at times but there is much room for improvement.
Their forward unit are working very well. John O’Dwyer will only get better and 2-2 was a very good return from the half-forward.
There has been a big demand on Seamus Callanan in recent games, but that eased yesterday. Gearóid Ryan was back to his very best. Where the problem lies for Tipp is at the back. They need to be more ruthless and were caught ball watching on many occasions.
Their puckout strategy could also be improved. Too many times Darren Gleeson went short, putting pressure on his defenders. Puck the ball 100 yards and put it down on the likes of Patrick Bonnar Maher who thrives when racing onto breaking ball.
Tipperary had it so easy yesterday simply because their opponents were so poor. Dublin were a big, big disappointment. This was worse than the Leinster final. Players and management need a break. Everything has gone stale in the Dublin camp. Players are playing as individuals.
Anthony Daly should get out. It’s been a great show and great to watch the rise of Dublin hurling, but the show needs to be moved on and he is not the man for it. He has brought them as far as he can and so it is time to part ways. I don’t want to be too critical of the man because he achieved success we never thought Dublin would achieve.
I think the County Board should opt for someone from within, a Dublin man who can drive this team forward.
On the dual issue in Dublin, it says something that there are many players still choosing football over hurling. If the present hurlers were good enough to make Jim Gavin’s football team, would they be playing hurling? It also says something about the attitude towards hurling in the capital that they had the smallest pocket of support yesterday. There is no real Dublin hurling support and that is not good for the team. They are still second class citizens in the county.
So, we arrive at the semi-finals. The hurling year in general has been poor. We’ve had good matches, but very little good hurling. It is important the two semis rescue the 2014 hurling championship.
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