Perfectionist O’Shea claims Tipp can improve

Cork's Seamus Harnedy  crashes into Tipperary's Brendan Maher in yesterday's All-Ireland SHC semi-final at Croke Park. Picture: Inpho/James Crombie

Just as his Tipperary team entertained their outnumbered supporters in Croke Park, so too did Eamon O’Shea with the gathered media after the game.

In high spirits, he joked of the prospect of facing Kilkenny: “Ah, sure we never win against them.”

Yesterday might have been clinical but he insisted it wasn’t perfect.

“They’re not happy,” he said of his players, “and I’m not happy. And they know I’m not happy. Primarily, they’re not happy.”

However, he had reason for confidence going into the game. “We played an A v B game last week and if I was to tell you the score after 10 minutes, you wouldn’t believe me. But I’m not gonna tell ya!

“But you knew the A team were on their game. Fifteen minutes gone, the A team were on their game and all we had to do during the week was keep it ticking over.”

O’Shea might have found fault in some of Tipperary’s play but he also takes exception to how the team have been perceived.

“I’m not trying to downplay the performance or appear any way calm about this; I think the performance was really good. I’m just saying they are not happy with their movement and their coming on to the ball.

“In terms of where it came from, these guys are calm. They are calm about what they do. They don’t pay much attention to what is being said or written about them.We tried to get calmness around us, solidity around us, and to be something. That’s all we want to be: to be something.

“What you saw was that solidity. When people are assessing Tipperary, sometimes I see the word ‘flair’ being mentioned. When I assess Tipperary I see the word ‘character’ first. Because you can’t have flair without character. This team are really strong in terms of their character. That’s the way it has to be. You can’t get into an All-Ireland final unless the team has bundles of it.”

He doesn’t want this latest win to be considered a breeze either. “I don’t like talking about how easy it came. Everybody says that Tipp get easy games — people tend to believe that every opposition that we come up against must give up before we play them.

“I was surprised that Cork weren’t functioning at their A game. They missed a few frees, that’s what surprised me. That gave me a little bit of hope that they weren’t firing on all cylinders.

“We’ve won now by 10, 17, 13, 10 — and people want to see us win a tight game? I’d prefer to win by 10.”

O’Shea paid tribute to the graft of Patrick “Bonner” Maher who had picked up a rib injury early in the game.

“Bonner was extraordinary today. And the reason he was extraordinary was, he was injured early on in the game. And he played with a lot of pain. In fact, we could have taken him off earlier. But every time we wanted to take him off, he was showing for another ball.

“I mean the man is extraordinary, not just as an athlete. He’s a phenomenal player. He plays the game the way it should be played.”

There were also words of praise for Cathal Barrett, Darren Gleeson and the midfield pairing. “Cathal is a great prospect. He has a long career ahead of him with Tipperary. I thought the goalkeeper was outstanding in terms of controlling the game.

“I thought our midfield was excellent. So there was a good platform there. In fairness to the forwards, I thought they worked really hard when they hadn’t the ball. I saw Seamus Callanan coming out there a few times and trying to stop the ball being cleared.

“I think it’s great credit to them. I said it to them up there before I left that they should be proud of what they’ve done in terms of the way they delivered on what they wanted to do themselves. I’m just happy for them.”


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