Ken Hogan won’t be rushing any Tipperary players or management into retirement, but admits the county’s senior hurling setup “needs surgery”.
The former Tipp manager and goalkeeper paid tribute to the tenacity of Tipp’s players for taking Saturday’s quarter-final defeat by Waterford to the wire, but felt they struggled to match Waterford's energy and pace.
Speaking on the Irish Examiner GAA Podcast, Hogan said: “I was hugely fearful we were going to concede an awful lot and unfortunately it came to fruition. We had 2-14 conceded at half-time.
“The heart and the commitment they showed, and the unbelievable tenacity to stay in the game, to hang in there to the bitter end, kept Tipperary going.
“Tipp played on instinct, we have marvelous hurlers, but Waterford had that little bit on us right through.
“Overall, to concede 4-28, 40 points, is just too much. To score 2-27, the highest ever score for a losing team in championship, is heartbreaking for the players themselves. They died with their boots on, but there’s a bit of surgery needed, unfortunately.”
Immediately after the game, Waterford manager Liam Cahill provided a frank analysis of his native county, suggesting that Tipperary hurling is “at a big crossroads with tough decisions to be made”.
Hogan believes Cahill is upset he wasn’t offered the Tipperary job himself two years ago.
“Liam Cahill is an absolutely honest man, a passionate hurling man, and we can’t forget Mikey Bevans’ input here as well. He’s a top-class coach, a great guy to have at your side — they come as a package, like Clough and Taylor.
“From my point of view, Liam is hurting from 2019, he felt it was his job. He’d won minor/U20/U21. Liam (Sheedy) was very brave to take on the job in 2019, to come back. People say never come back. Liam stuck with the lads, they have huge trust in him, they have huge faith. He built a very good backroom team.
“Probably if Liam (Cahill) had come in at that stage, he would have dismantled it a small bit. He would have been ruthless — like the Noel Connors, Maurice Shanahan situation — and maybe Tipp wouldn't have won the All-Ireland in 2019.
“Liam is hurting, he would love to have that Tipperary job, but he is doing a wonderful job for Waterford.”
As for Tipperary’s older players, Hogan added: "I don't agree about pushing people into retirements. Paudie Maher is in supreme condition. He has a number of years to play. I think he's a wonderful full-back.
“You never write off any player. Every year, you used to say Noel Lane will retire this year, and he’d come back. He came back and scored a goal against us in '88, he scored against Kilkenny in ‘87 at 34/35 years of age.
“Some of these players can have a huge role to play for 20/25 minutes. They owe Tipperary nothing, Liam Sheedy owes Tipperary nothing. They’ve had a wonderful time together, but I do think there is a small bit of surgery needed.
“Tipp’s B team played Offaly in a challenge and they were very impressive. They were beating the A team in training.
“But we didn’t see enough of that B team. Brian McGrath, outstanding hurler, Eoghan Connolly, we didn’t see these guys come championship. And we are plugging holes at the back.
“They were the guys for the future, whether Liam Sheedy will have them or some other manager. There are hurlers there and we would have been happier if those lads had seen more opportunity in the league."