Michael Ryan says he and his Tipperary management team have found fate “to be fickle” this year and believes it has replenished the group’s appetite to retain their All-Ireland title.
In a letter to members of the county’s supporters club ahead of Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final against Galway, Ryan defended some of the calls made by him and his selectors Declan Fanning, John Madden and Conor Stakelum.
He didn’t refer to any in particular, but the decision not to recall Cathal Barrett to the panel would appear to be chief among them.
Ryan wrote: “Given our setbacks earlier this year, we have probably learned more in times of difficulty, about the challenges of management, than we ever did in times of success. I am sure you sometimes wonder about our decisions, both on and off the field, but these decisions are taken, based on what we see before us over a considerable period of time. I think, because we have found faith [sic] to be fickle on a couple of occasions this year, it just makes us, both players and management, all the hungrier to be successful again.
“There is one guarantee I will offer regarding Sunday and that is there will be a monumental effort on our part to topple Galway and represent you our supporters in the best tradition of Tipperary hurling.”
Ryan, who is said to be mulling returning Darren Gleeson to goal and restoring Michael Cahill to the full-back line, highlighted the county’s record of reaching the last four.
“My involvement on the management side is now a total of seven years going back to 2008, when I was a selector with Liam Sheedy. People tend to forget that since 2008, Tipperary have been involved in eight out of 10 All-Ireland semi-finals. While it is difficult to compare because of the qualifier system now, this has never happened in a 10-year period previously. It is a credit to all the players involved over that period, because standards have been very high during this time, but the challenge never gets easier. Tactics, skills, levels of fitness are changing all the time and we have to adapt every year.”
Ryan highlighted the disappointments of the Division 1 final and Munster SHC opener defeats to Galway and Cork.
“Now, we attempt to become the first Tipperary team since the 1960s to retain the title. The next challenge in this journey is Galway and what a challenge this is. Over the past few years, all of our battles with them have been epic contests, with only a puck of the ball separating the two teams,” wrote Ryan, who thanked those who have contributed to the team’s preparations via the supporters’ club and encouraged more to join.
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