Tipperary 1-23 Dublin 0-12: Tipperary’s direct approach bore fruit at Semple Stadium on Saturday as new boss Michael Ryan enjoyed the perfect start to his competitive reign.
Tipp won a series of pre- season challenge games but after deciding against participating in the Munster senior hurling league, the worry was his men would be undercooked for the bigger tests.
Speaking to this paper recently, however, Ryan promised Tipp would be ready — and they were — as Dublin were handed a 14-point hammering on a freezing evening in Thurles.
This one was effectively done and dusted by half-time as wind-assisted Tipp led 1-9 to 0-3, despite registering 10 wides. Tipp’s stand-out forward, Jason Forde, scored the 13th minute goal as he broke onto a loose ball before firing low past Conor Dooley.
The route one option allowed Forde to profit indirectly and a feature of Tipp’s play was their desire to hit the full-forward line early and often, while long-range shooters were urged to have a pop, with mixed results.
Dublin have given Tipp problems in the league in recent years and the hosts are notoriously slow starters. Indeed, this was just Tipp’s second opening day league win in seven years and for Ryan, it was the perfect start.
“We came here to get a result to get our campaign off the ground and thankfully that’s how it panned out,” said Ryan. “Conditions were difficult— we knew what it was going to be like but I thought our guys put in a very honest effort. To a man, we were very happy with that and we got to use our full compliment of five subs, which is good for the group. But this National Hurling League is hectic. This is game one of a five-match run and we will be tested to the hilt by the time this is over.”
Kilkenny next Sunday at Nowlan Park will give Ryan a better indication of how his team is shaping up. But Tipp were clinical in most aspects of their play, heavy underfoot conditions conducive to going long. “You certainly couldn’t be dilly-dallying around with the ball, putting your skill on show but look, that directness led to the first goal. We’ll take that any time.”
Ryan also took the chance to run his bench in the second- half and wristy forward John O’Dwyer came on to pick off a few scores, with Cashel man Dylan Fitzelle also showing his aerial prowess before scoring a nice effort from the Old Stand side. In front of 5,105 spectators, Ryan went with debutants Daire Quinn and Dan McCormack from the start, and 21-year-old Tomás Hamill at full-back.
Captain Brendan Maher played at centre-forward last year but was restored to his 2010 All-Ireland winning home of wing-back, with Conor Kenny, impressive in pre-season, sited at full-forward in the absence of injured Seamus Callanan.
Noel McGrath also did well on his first full competitive start since beating testicular cancer last year while younger brother John, who suffered a pelvic injury setback in 2015, did his long-term prospects no harm at all. All in all, a most satisfactory start for Ryan and Tipp but the paucity of the Dublin challenge must be taken into account. Visiting Sky Blue fans would have expected more, particularly with Walsh Cup success in the bag.
You would have expected that the standard of opposition on show there would trump what Tipp came up against in challenge games but it should be noted Ryan’s men beat Laois, Offaly and Wexford in recent weeks.
And so Ryan, while declining to say it straight out, could privately declare himself vindicated by his decision to take ownership of January.
“Shocked? No — more disappointed,” was Ger Cunningham’s reaction. “We were thinking we had a good pre season preparation. But this is a different level. It’s a higher level completely. The conditions weren’t good for both sides but they adapted quicker. They were very hungry. Obviously, under new management, there’s guys out to impress. You’re playing one of the top maybe two teams in the country. That’s the challenge. We thought we prepared well and we wanted to put up a better challenge than that. We’ll have to move on quickly.”
That they will as Galway provide the opposition at Parnell Park next weekend.
D Gleeson; C Barrett, T Hamill, M Cahill; B Maher, J Barry, Pádraic Maher (0-02); M Breen, D Quinn; D McCormack, Patrick Maher, J Forde (1-05); N McGrath (0-02), C Kenny (0-03), J McGrath (0-07, 5f).
D Fitzelle (0-01) for Patrick Maher (47), J Gallagher for Breen (58), J O’Dwyer (0-03) for McCormack (58), J Meagher for B Maher (66), L Ryan for Quinn (67).
C Dooley; J Boland, E O’Donnell, O Gough; C O’Callaghan, C Crummy, S Barrett; N McMorrow (0-02), J McCaffrey; D Plunkett (0-01), E Dillon (0-01), D Treacy (0-03f); D O’Callaghan (0-01), P Ryan (0-01f), M Schutte (0-01).
C Cronin (0-01) for Ryan (h.t.), D O’Connell (0-01) for Plunkett (48), O O’Rorke for O’Callaghan (59), F McGibb for McCaffrey (63).
C Lyons (Cork).
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