O’Shea: Mental strength will finally get Tipp over the line

Eamon O’Shea is confident Tipperary will win the All-Ireland in the coming years, believing the team’s mental strength will help them recover from a fourth consecutive championship defeat to Kilkenny, a second All-Ireland final loss since 2011.

In an emotional post-match assessment, the Tipperary manager said his charges had grown as men this summer, insisting “Tipperary try now until it is no longer possible and who when things don’t go their way keep going”.

He paid tribute to the unwavering character of his charges, confident this latest setback won’t hinder further progress.

“I think the team has developed, are a really strong unit, and will go on to achieve something over the next three or four or five years so. I’d be confident the team is strong and strong mentally,” he asserted.

“There is good character, but they have also got fairly good ability, played some really good games and we’d be happy with that. We came up against a really good team yesterday and hats off to them for I thought they were really good. We just weren’t able to match them on the day and that is how it is.

“There are some really good strong people in our group. There is good resolve, good resilience, and the group will keep strong definitely. I know that group will ultimately go on to do something.

“They proved this year that setbacks are not going to stop us. I think Tipp will still be there – Tipp will always be competing at a high level.”

Despite the heartbreak, O’Shea was adamant the team had answered the doubts raised by a demanding Tipperary following in the wake of the Munster semi-final defeat to Limerick.

“They [the Tipperary supporters] have a formidable team here. Look at the record since I was involved, I think it is four Munster finals and four All-Ireland final appearances. I think a lot of other counties might like to be involved in that so I don’t see anything wrong with that.

“To play in an All-Ireland final is an achievement and you have to acknowledge that too – we went toe-to-toe and we came out with the wrong result.”

“They got their game plan right and we couldn’t operate ours. They got four or five points consecutively at the start of the second-half, but I think from our point of view we dug in a bit. We were chasing the game and when you are chasing the game it is very hard to find rhythm.”

O’Shea has one year remaining in his tenure, but declined to comment on his future as Tipperary boss, also addressing speculation that Eoin Kelly has donned the blue and gold for the last time.

“I wouldn’t like to be calling time on anybody. It’s never about me and not about me. Tipperary will always be there.

“The project is to improve them and that is bigger than me. They know what it is about now and they will take it on.”

On the overall state of Tipperary hurling, he added: “We were competitive at U21 this year against a really good Clare side but everything is evolving and they are the standard-bearers.

“It is a really competitive senior championship. Limerick are a really competitive team and I don’t think they got the credit this year they merited.”

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