Their league endeavours concluded on a low note when Cork overwhelmed them in the latter stages of the semi-final in Semple Stadium.
On Sunday, Tipperary return to their Thurles home knowing victory over Limerick will give them another shot at Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s charges.
The general expectation may be that Tipperary are warm favourites to reprise their tie with Cork. Yet when Declan Ryan considers the personnel steering Limerick, his immediate reaction is to be cautious.
Manager John Allen is well-versed in beating Tipperary teams and coach Donagh O’Donnell guided Nenagh CBS to the All-Ireland colleges title.
“Limerick are in a rebuilding phase at the minute,” said Ryan.
“The one thing you can say about Limerick is they’ve got a lot of potential in their forward line. That’s something every team wants. John Allen will have the team very well organised, he’s a good organiser and a good coach. Donagh O’Donnell will have done a lot of good work with Limerick as well.”
Fine-tuning his own team’s preparations is of paramount importance to Ryan. When picking over the bones of that Cork defeat, he pinpointed deficiencies in their mental state as the root cause for the ineffective display.
“If you go out and are not tuned in mentally, you’ll struggle to perform. That’s the same for every team.
“You have to gauge it in the preparation the week before. How lads are reacting, their body language and that sort of thing. The biggest thing that I’ve learned as a manager is that, regardless of how physically well you’ve prepared — and our guys are in very good physical shape — if you’re not tuned in and you’re not mentally prepared to go for every ball as if it’s your last, you’re going to struggle.”
Yet Ryan has confidence in his players and hopes his plans to alter a few elements of their preparation will pay off.
“We’ve been looking at a couple of those things in the last couple of weeks then and we’ll be putting them in practice for the Limerick game. Our team are more a championship team, and they relish the occasion. This particular group of players are mentally geared towards championship. Judging by the way our guys have trained and prepared over the last couple of weeks, we’re going to go full belt on Sunday.”
At the outset of another championship season, Tipperary enjoy a status as one of the market leaders in national hurling. Yet that increases expectations and the standards demanded by their own supporters are high.
“You have to put everything in perspective — hurling is a way of life in Tipperary,” outlined Ryan.
“I’m just amazed at how committed these guys are. It’s disappointing when you see them going out and maybe not getting the breaks they deserve because the commitment they give is fantastic.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion in Tipp. That’s a positive thing — it’s no different than Kilkenny, Cork, Limerick or anywhere else. Any real hurling people that know what goes into preparing these teams and understand the lifestyles these players live during championship would be very fair in their comments.
“Obviously, we had a couple of games last year when we didn’t play to form and the guys shipped a bit of criticism for that. But you just get on with it and prepare as best as you can for the next game. And that’s what we’re about for Limerick.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved