Nine points down against Cork, 11 points down to Waterford yesterday, Michael Ryan knows it’s character, not hurling, that has kept Tipperary alive in the Munster SHC.
“Look, if that’s just thickness fair enough, we’re just thick. But that’s what we are. We’re here to play and we don’t give in.
“Matches, time and time again, super matches have been won in the last two minutes of the game or the last 30 seconds.
“Look it, we salvaged a draw again, I’d say in the last 20 seconds of the game and just great credit goes to a group that will keep trying. They are so honest but you know we really do need to start playing better than we did. That’s to take nothing away from Waterford and their commanding lead at half-time.”
A defeat would not have ended their chances of a top-three position although the chances of qualifying would have been slim — they’d have had to beat Clare and hope they and Waterford put up no further points.
He cut a relieved figure but accepts Tipperary’s existence right now is charmed and not sustainable.
“I had a sense even before we got going out there that we were a little… I could see a little bit of fatigue and maybe that wasn’t what I was looking at all but you get a sense, and it was very hot.
“I just felt, for both sides out there, that you’re expending massive energy and Waterford were in the very same position as us. It was game day two for them, they needed to get something out of this game. They’re a quality side, they were in last year’s All-Ireland absolutely on merit.
“Their spring led to a situation and their injuries, to acknowledge that and be fair to them, they’re missing a good few key players but they have a lot of strength in depth, they certainly didn’t look like a team that were short key players out there today when they were 11 points up and in control of a match.
“Again, I’ll just credit our guys, they fought it out. The trick for us is to get to that fight-it-out stage a bit earlier and maybe from the throw-in the next day.”
Ryan agreed that Michael Cahill’s second yellow card was dubious.
“Indeed it looked harsh from where I was looking, too. I think the technicality was that he did clip the Waterford chap’s helmet. The ball also went over the bar and there was nothing at all in it only an attempt to intercept the ball. He already picked up a yellow and the ref applied the rules, but I thought it was awfully harsh.
“The rules are the rules, and it had a big impact on the game, let’s face it. Particularly in that context, I thought our fellows were just outstanding in that second half. It’s really was a 20-man effort, and the chaps that came in I thought they played themselves into the game and got into it.”
Needless to say, Tipperary must put Clare to the sword in six days’ time.
“It’s huge. It’s absolutely massive. All we can do is get ready for Clare. It’s a very fast turnaround. I said to one of the lads there at half-time I hope it rains, just to give the lads a break.
“But you know, look it, those are the days you want to play hurling, that real red heat. Look, it’s still in our own destiny to get the best possible result we can. After that it’s in the lap of the Gods. I think we need other results to go our way.”
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