THEY came within a whisker of deposing Kilkenny earlier this month but Brendan Cummins has warned that Tipperary will have to evolve if they are to deliver on their undoubted potential and claim a first All-Ireland title since 2001.
While talk of retirements is a staple conversational diet at this time of year, that is less the case in Tipperary where Cummins is by far the oldest member of the panel at the ripe old age of 34.
Declan Fanning and Micheal Webster were the only other members of the thirtysomethings club on this year’s panel but the four-time All Star has been around long enough to know that Tipp cannot afford to stand still and that new blood is required.
“There hasn’t been any talk of (retiring). I think the average age of the team is 22 if you take me out of it but I bring it up to 25 or 26. These are young fellas. We have the culture that it is very competitive. I’m sure Liam (Sheedy) and the backroom team are going to have to freshen it up so, unfortunately, people will lose out.
“That’s the way it has to be because everybody has to be looking over their shoulder. If that culture is to grow he has got hard decisions to make in 2010. But everything Liam has done has been perfect so far so I don’t see any reason why he won’t do this right.”
Cummins doesn’t go along with the theory that they will be Kilkenny’s only pursuers.
“The talk going around the place is that Tipp-Kilkenny will be the ones now for the next five or six or 10 years. But Galway and Cork, when they get their act together again, and Waterford will have something to say about that.”
Tipp looked perfectly placed to claim the title until Henry Shefflin hit the net from that disputed penalty and Martin Comerford followed it up with the Leinster side’s second goal. Even now however, Tipp aren’t interested in excuses or get-out-clauses.
“The ifs and buts are always going to be in it. I have lost matches in the past and won them when you would say ‘jaysus we were lucky there’. We put ourselves in a position to win and then after that things didn’t really go our way. We are not going to use excuses, the penalty or whatever.
“PJ Ryan had a fantastic game. We can blame him. We can blame Henry Shefflin for hitting the frees over the bar. At the end of the day we piled everything we had into it, including the kitchen sink. There was only a minute they got their legs on us and they got the two goals in that minute. That’s the difference.”
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