Sheedy never doubted his side’s strength of character

Twenty minutes to go, five points and a man down after John McGrath’s silly sending off and you could almost hear the sounds of the knives being sharpened for Tipperary and this generation of players.

Sheedy never doubted his side’s strength of character

Twenty minutes to go, five points and a man down after John McGrath’s silly sending off and you could almost hear the sounds of the knives being sharpened for Tipperary and this generation of players.

No one has ever questioned the ability of these individuals but their appetite for battle and ability to scrape through a battle rather than saunter through a game in balletic fashion has always been questioned.

Add in the age profile of this team and it looked like the jury had their verdict after years of deliberations.

Then came the final say as Wexford were outscored 0-12 to 1-2 across that last 26 or so minutes of play. And not just outscored but outfought and outmanoeuvred too. Even the bench, deemed light on impact all year, made a huge, maybe unexpected contribution.

Noel McGrath gave a nod to that context when interviewed on the pitch immediately after the game. “Anyone who was looking for answers about Tipperary got them today,” said the man of the match. So much for the doubters.

As for Liam Sheedy, his belief in them never wavered.

“No, I’ve seen enough of them,” said the Tipperary manager.

"They are just a great, great bunch. I felt it myself: I looked out and I didn’t see guys that were throwing in the towel. I said, ‘These guys are still going for it.’

“And that’s probably why I wasted a fair bit of energy myself in those last 20 minutes, because I knew they were still grasping.

“The ball was going down, Ronan Maher was coming out, Brendan Maher was coming out. We transferred ball much, much better. Noel got on a lot of ball in midfield and when he gets on ball he distributes it really, really well. We really started to tick.”

Sheedy spoke of being on an emotional high after a contest that delivered four goals, 38 points, and enough controversies and talking points to keep supporters, pundits, and players engaged for another month of Sundays. It showed in the way his words flowed.

Sentences started and finished at abrupt junctures. Some floated off into the ether. More were bolted on to others in the most ad hoc manner as images and snapshots flashed across his mind.

You couldn’t blame him but, amid all the talk of disallowed goals and red cards, one opinion came across crystal clear, as it were. “So, look, Sean Cleere is a fine referee,” he said when asked about that trio of goals that weren’t.

“It’s a difficult, difficult situation to find yourself in out there because the game is just frantic. Again, it probably tells you a bit more about our group and our team that they managed to answer back and found the resolve to go at it again. Because they are setbacks.”

The last of those three goals to be scrubbed was scored by Jake Morris, one of five subs to enter the fray at its loudest and maddest. Morris still managed a point and another three arrived courtesy of others off the pine. A vital contribution and even more noteworthy given Tipp had mined only four points from that sector across six previous games.

“That’s conversations we have had... There are some guys that don’t get to tog out and that is tough on them,” said Sheedy. “We asked the (subs) to really represent the group well if they got on the pitch today. It wasn’t just the scores either. It was some of the balls they turned over. When it looked like Wexford would get on the attack they would get a hook or a block in and turn over the ball.

“We had some huge turnovers in that last ten minutes and a turnover was as good as a score in those instances.

“Jake Morris put the ball in the back of the net and the way he got that point down in the corner... He is a guy who is clearly building his confidence all the time and on the back of his (U20) performance last Tuesday night. It’s been a really good week for Tipperary.”

And how.

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