Declan Ryan was making no excuses yesterday in Croke Park.
His team had been comprehensively beaten and the Tipp manager was honest in his evaluation of the game.
“The better team by a mile won today, obviously. We did well for the first 35 minutes, but Kilkenny picked up all the breaking ball in the second-half, they swarmed us, and we had no answer to their physicality.
“We were very happy at half-time. I don’t know what happened at half-time but we seemed to lose our shape a little in the second-half and Kilkenny seemed to win all the breaking ball.”
Ryan paid tribute to Kilkenny’s ability to raise the green flag. “We’d always pride ourselves on having good finishers, that if we got a couple of goal chances that we’d take them, but Kilkenny were superior in that area. They got goal chances and they stuck them away – they maybe could have got another goal or two.
“They played slightly defensively in the second-half, pulling their midfielders back. Our guys have been finishing games strongly all year, so I don’t know where the last 20 minutes came out of. It’s something we’ll have to sit down and analyse.
“There’s a lot of very proud Tipp players in there [the dressing-room] and I’d like to pay a particular tribute to John O’Brien. He had a very difficult week and it just showed the warrior he is, the way he turned out for Tipp and played a very fine game. It’s going to be a tough week or two for us all now.”
The congestion on the field wherever Lar Corbett, Pa Bourke, Jackie Tyrrell and Tommy Walsh went was acknowledged by Ryan.
“It seemed to work out in the first-half, we had some room inside in the first-half. In the second-half then it didn’t give us the kind of room inside that we were looking for. We brought on Shane Bourke because we know the kind of pace he has, but it didn’t work out in the second-half.
“We picked Lar at number 12, and Tommy [Walsh] was picked at five, so our ideal match-up... that was the plan, Lar would pick up Tommy. Obviously Jackie Tyrrell didn’t agree and he wanted a piece of it.
“Tommy’s last 20 minutes was probably his best period. I don’t know how good he was in the first-half, but results prove, ultimately, that it backfired to some extent on us. No complaints, best team won.”
Ryan added Tipperary had asked the linesman to delay the second-half while Corbett changed his gear in the dressing-room, hence the Thurles Sars’ man late return to the field. He also confirmed Conor O’Mahony had played with a broken toe, but it hadn’t limited him, but added that Eoin Kelly had been “struggling” with a groin injury.”
And the future? Ryan was circumspect. “Myself, Tommy [Dunne] and Michael [Gleeson] had a two-year term, and that’s up now. We’ll have to see what the county board, the chairman and the backroom team decide. Today isn’t a day to be making those decisions.
“The older guys have been great warriors and today wouldn’t be a day for them to make any rash decisions. You’d have to be working with them to see the effort they put in to prepare to play at this level.”
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