Allianz HL Division 1 quarter-final
Offaly 0-13 Tipperary 1-16
Eamon O’Shea’s post-match interview in Tullamore lasted just 160 seconds but in that brief period the Tipperary manager made two strong attacks.
The first was on GAA fixture makers for apparently pencilling in too many games in too short a space of time.
Tipp’s comfortable win over Offaly, which secured a league semi-final tie with Waterford on April 19, was their fourth game on consecutive weekends.
His second stinging rebuke was perhaps aimed at referees, when he spoke of the ‘punishment’ that All-Star attacker Seamus Callanan has been taking during games.
There was context to that statement as Callanan, after scoring 1-6, was dismissed on a straight red card offence in the 40th minute.
Referee John Keenan consulted with his umpire after an off-the-ball incident that left Offaly full-back Dermot Short grounded and the net result was Callanan’s red card.
As it turned out, Callanan’s contribution had gone a long way to sealing victory for Tipp, who used the cushion of a 13-point half-time lead to coast through the second-half.
They could even afford to lose a second player to a red card in the 65th minute, Cathal Barrett, and still win with plenty to spare.
Tipp will be without Callanan, however, for the semi-final as they attempt to qualify for third final in a row.
O’Shea kicked to touch on the incident itself and the fact that Callanan will be missing in a little under three weeks’ time.
But he didn’t pull any punches when he suggested that the talented forward is regularly the victim of rough treatment himself.
“He’s been getting a lot of punishment,” said O’Shea. “He got a lot of punishment last Sunday, so did John O’Dwyer, who couldn’t hurl today because of it. So that’s the nature of the game.”
The dismissals, the poor second-half display and Kieran Bergin’s ankle injury were the downsides to the day.
But O’Shea said he was generally delighted with the character shown by his players, particularly after recently embarking on a period of heavy training. And with the games coming so thick and fast in recent weeks, there simply hasn’t been an opportunity to rest his men.
“It’s a very demanding league,” continued O’Shea. “What I really feel about the league is that’s it’s a tough league, game after game each Sunday without the players resting.
“These are amateur players, they’re not professional players. I think it needs a serious rethink.”
Tipp didn’t look heavy legged early on as they raced clear of Offaly. Callanan was on top of his game from the start and hit their two first points before firing a quite outrageous 18th minute goal.
Offaly’s goal didn’t appear in any danger but Callanan released a bullet from an acute angle on the left that flew in. The scorer was entitled to the fist pump he allowed himself after that one.
It was all a little too easy for Tipp, who pointed at will and took advantage of the breeze to put up an early score that Offaly were unlikely to match.
Brendan Maher, settling into his new role at centre-forward, released back-to-back bullets that flew over and Tipp were 1-14 to 0-4 up at the break.
Poor Offaly scored just twice from play in the opening half, points from Shane Dooley and Joe Bergin.
“With the wind the way it was, it was always going to be a game of two halves,” said Offaly manager Brian Whelahan afterwards.
He was proven correct but the margin was simply too great for Offaly to reel in. They were boosted at various stages of the second-half by the Tipp dismissals and Bergin’s withdrawal.
With the wind at their back, literally and metaphorically, Offaly ate into the big deficit, first with two points in a row, then with seven on the spin.
Dooley was excellent and converted two placed balls and two from play in the half. Stephen Quirke was on the mark too as was Brian Carroll. The hosts got the margin down to six but needed goals.
They drew a number of saves from Tipp ‘keeper Darragh Egan and were awarded a 68th minute penalty when Egan charged out and upended Carroll. But he made amends with a fine save.
Scorers for Tipperary: S Callanan (1-6, 4f), K Bergin and Brendan Maher (0-3 each), J Forde, N McGrath, N O’Meara and R Maher (0-1 each).
Scorers for Offaly: S Dooley (0-7, 3f, 1 ‘65), J Bergin, B Carroll and S Quirke (0-2 each).
Subs: S McGrath for Bergin (45), S Bourke for O’Meara (57), C Kenny for Forde (61), S Maher for Patrick Maher (70).
Subs: T Carroll for Ryan (31), C Mulrooney for Currams (44).
Referee: J Keenan (Wicklow).
READ NEXT: Rebels have flaws to sort before key games
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved