Tipperary manager Michael Ryan might have strenuously disagreed with the severity of his punishment, but John O’Dwyer took it on the chin.
Lashing out as he did against Limerick’s Richie English in June, the forward didn’t have any excuses. In fairness, he couldn’t, reducing his team to 14 men and him to a nervous wreck that he might have cost his team a Munster final spot.
Ultimately, he didn’t and neither did his absence through suspension in the final against Waterford hurt Tipp, but still it was a timely reminder of the talented forward’s need to keep his cool.
“Ah, it was my own fault,” he says. “I’m not going to hide behind the fact, I’m not going to try and begrudge the fact that I got sent off. It’s my own fault. I don’t think the punishment is harsh. A one-match ban, whether it’s a Munster final or a club match, junior, senior, or whatever... if you get sent off on a straight red, you’re going to get a one-match ban.
“Whether it’s an All-Ireland final or a Munster final, you have to take your punishment and that’s it and move on.”
The red card was O’Dwyer’s second this year, having been dismissed playing for CIT in the Fitzgibbon Cup. The Killenaule man has also had a couple of close disciplinary escapes in the past. Following the Munster semi-final, former team-mate Eoin Kelly suggested opposing players may attempt to pull his tail. But O’Dwyer’s not so sure.
“I wouldn’t think so. We’re playing Galway and Galway are a serious outfit. We played them last year and they got on top of us and they beat us. They have six serious backs. It’s inter-county level, there’s no one player going to be targeted more so than another. You’re going to get your punishment off backs anyway.
“The same on the other side, our backs are going to give Galway punishment as well. I don’t think it’s going to make much of a difference whether they give me more attention or not. You’d just have to stand there and take it, that’s it.”
O’Dwyer doesn’t deny the sending-off affected him. “Ah, it took me a while now. It was self-inflicted, it was a mistake or whatever but we have the players there to deal with situations like that. It took me a week or two, whatever, but we played Limerick and then on the Tuesday we were back in training. We had a chat inside in training on the Tuesday night and then back at it straight away.”
The 24-year-old never feared Tipperary would feel his loss in the Munster final having resumed with 15 men but the remainder of the Limerick game was a different affair. He spoke to the players at half-time, cajoling them to go on and win for themselves.
“Thinking about it straight away I was,” he says of sitting in the stand watching on in Thurles. “Then, looking at the game, not having a man in beside Seamie (Callanan) and John McGrath inside in the forward line kind of opened up space for them as well. The lads kind of thrive on space.
“Everyone thrives on space but having that space in front of Seamie and John opened up the whole thing as well and Seamie was absolutely unbelievable that day. He took it on himself after going a man down. He took it upon himself to prove that whether we’ve 12 men, 13 men, or 14 men, Tipp are going to win.”
O’Dwyer reports training has been going well for him ever since — it will need to be if he is to rectify a quiet afternoon against Galway last year, when the five-week gap from their Munster final was partly blamed for their performance. “I was flat against Galway but you know Galway didn’t allow us hurl and I don’t think it has anything got to do with the five-week gap. There’s a lot made of this five-week gap but I don’t think it has much of a difference.
“Galway came with an intensity. We were coming in as favourites and all this sort of stuff but last year, it was never going to be a one-sided game. The same this year, it’s not going to be a one-sided game either.”
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