Tipp only fuelling the ill feeling

Picture: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

After he saved Kerry’s Division 1 bacon last month, Eamonn Fitzmaurice said he owed Paul Mannion a pint.

A bottle of Longford’s favourite tipple might be winging its way to Pearse Park from Kilkenny and Tipperary as they saved the two counties a whole lot of bother with last Sunday’s disciplinary issue.

The news that JJ Delaney and Lar Corbett’s bans are restricted to the league because of a loophole is certainly a let-off for the pair having faced missing out on their respective provincial openers against Offaly and Limerick on June 9 respectively.

But the reprieve is likely to be appreciated more by Delaney given Corbett now faces a race against time to be fit for the Gaelic Grounds game after fracturing a couple of ribs in the fracas.

Would there be upset in Tipperary were Delaney to play in Tullamore and Corbett fail to be fit for the Munster semi-final? You better believe there would.

Tipperary supporters could have genuine grounds for grievance considering Corbett was quite literally the injured party and could suffer by missing out on a knock-out game.

Whether he was innocent in it all, we have our doubts but the fact is he came out of it much worse than Delaney.

Neither county is likely to challenge the Central Competitions Control Committee’s decision given all eyes are on the Championship now and February 2014 is a long time away. Plus, they are both edging closer to inter-county retirement.

Based on the TV footage of the incident, there would appear to be a lot for Tipperary to be upset about but then it didn’t indicate how the tussle started and developed into a wrestle on the ground.

The photographs showing Corbett surrounded by Kilkenny players with no team-mate to defend him doesn’t paint a pretty picture for the blue and gold either.

Not only does it highlight that this Eamon O’Shea team is still developing, it may also suggest talk of Tipperary as All-Ireland champions material this September is premature.

If Tipperary had slightly more of the high moral ground earlier in the week, they had lost it by midweek. Tipperary chairman Sean Nugent’s comments on Tipp FM, which were later published in newspapers, has caused no small amount of disgruntlement in Kilkenny.

Asked if there was an increase in tension between the neighbours, he said: “I’d say there is. We’ve met so many times over the last number of years. And I’d say that the 2010 victory by Tipperary still rankles, to deny them the five-in-a-row. That still rankles in Kilkenny and has brought a different perspective to the rivalry recently.”

Nugent’s comments have certainly handed more incentive to Kilkenny ahead of a possible Championship date later in the year.

He may have had a point in relation to Corbett who was booed a number of times in Nowlan Park last Sunday.

Why was he ridiculed is a question that’s difficult to answer. Surely it wasn’t because of last year’s tactic when the idea of following Tommy Walsh did nothing to hurt Kilkenny apart from put a dent in Walsh’s chance of a 10th consecutive All Star?

Maybe it was because he spoke so negatively of Jackie Tyrrell in his book last year or is it that Kilkenny haven’t forgotten those three goals of his in September 2010?

Tipp have to get it out of their mindset that stopping the five-in-a-row was nothing compared to being on the verge of doing a five-in-a-row.

Regardless of what happened between Corbett and Delaney, Tipperary, last Sunday, restored part of what made this such a great rivalry and put more distance between themselves and August 19 last year. But for the third time in succession and fourth in five knock-out occasions, they lost.


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