Patience, asserted Eamon O’Shea, was the key to unlocking Waterford’s much vaunted counter-attacking system and delivering Tipperary a first Munster crown under his watch.
It wasn’t until the 62nd minute that the home outfit finally broke Waterford’s resistance, Seamus Callanan’s second ’65’ moving the winners into a four-point advantage.
O’Shea’s charges had struggled to break down the Waterford set-up prior to that juncture, Tadhg De Burca’s superb performance at the back indicative of the pressure exerted on the Tipperary forwards when in possession.
“Patience is a good way of putting it,” said the winning manager.
“The expectation is that you should go out and score a goal and continue on. High level sport doesn’t work like that. We have been trying to learn that lesson. We are still trying to learn those lessons.
“You would like a goal or two to make your life a lot better. At the same time, I think it was a different type of win. I don’t want to overdo it, though. It was two hard teams, a really tense game that didn’t really open up yet I thought both teams were probing all the time.
“I thought we started well, we tried to keep the ball open. In the second-half I thought we did better, we moved the ball. We got a few breaks at various times and managed to get the points.”
Yesterday’s five-point win represented Tipperary’s first piece of championship silverware secured under O’Shea.
The Tipp manager, however, was determined to downplay its significance, focusing instead on how his charges had bucked the trend of recent campaigns in coming out on the right side of a close game.
“I don’t always feel the silverware is as important as the outside thinks, but it is important. I thought it important we stayed at the game - they’re a resilient bunch, they’ve been through a fair bit.
“We had nine Munster final debutants, sometimes people think we’ve been going since the year 2000. We had nine people who played their first Munster final there - I think that’s good, to have that transition.
“We lost some fantastic players - I met Eoin Kelly there, he was such a player for Tipp, Brendan Cummins and John O’Brien.
“I thought that even when things weren’t going well today for the players, Seamus [Callanan] really battled back for a ball. That’s as important as a goal. I just thought that was really important.
“I thought a five-point win - maybe those who watch the game don’t call it a close game, but for me it was as close as it gets. I didn’t relax until the last minute of play.
“We’ve been through close games and sometimes we’ve come out the wrong side of them, but you have to be careful judging a team who come out the wrong side of a game by a point or two. I was always happy the team would be capable of winning a really tight match, and today was a really tight match.”
Experienced heads were crucial too, particularly when Waterford hit stride early in the second-half.
“We have players who’ve been through games which have been very tight, and who’ve been through things. That experience is good, but I was also pleased we stayed at the game and tried to play the way we wanted to play. It didn’t come off all the time, and it doesn’t show up on the scoreboard - and rightly so, because they (Waterford) were so good, but I’d be happy enough.”
Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher, meanwhile, was delighted by the determined way Tipperary absorbed every jab, hook and uppercut thrown by Waterford.
“We’d to work extremely hard in the forward line, break tackles and stop them from coming out with the ball. Patience was the name of the game and we stuck with our system. It worked out at the end.
“Our group has been a bit unlucky, but we are still standing and we have shown that today. We took what Waterford threw at us and we withstood it, we came out at the end the winners. So it’s great. You could just see in all the boys’ faces after the game how much it means to this group to win a bit of silverware.”
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