Tipperary Supporters Club

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Co. Tipperary

Premier project taking shape with plenty of positives on show in Tribe success

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Source: Irish Independent

This game was taking its last breath when Conor Stakelum, knifing through the Galway defence, was dragged down by his Galway pursuer Seán Linnane, leaving referee Colm Lyons with no option but to show Linnane a black card and award a penalty.

Either way, Tipperary were going to get something out of the game but just to be sure, Gearóid O’Connor turned to the sideline for wise counsel. Point or goal?

The encouragement was to play safe, establish a three-point lead and force Galway to get a goal. But O’Connor saw it differently. In such a flow, why not seek to double your money now, he clearly thought to himself, obliging for the game’s only goal and a five-point margin that was probably more in keeping with how it played out.

“It was a two-point game at that stage so the sensible thing to do was go for a point,” reflected Tipp manager Liam Cahill afterwards. “But I think he wanted to do his own thing. He’s in a great vein of form.”

Jason Forde may be sidelined but O’Connor is proving a more than capable deputy, a 1-13 haul, four points from play, accounted for with few blemishes.

From placed balls, including the penalty, he converted 10 from 11, dropping just one free from well inside his own half short near the end.

Even a botched sideline was quickly returned to him and from almost the same place where he had duffed it, O’Connor struck elegantly to create daylight with a two-point lead again, 0-25 to 0-23, as normal time closed out.

This was impressive from Tipperary, edging them close to the play-offs and virtually guaranteeing them Division 1 status in 2025.

Their ball-winning superiority in the middle third was striking, particularly in the air, but on the deck and in the trenches they had an edge their home support in the 5,941 crowd appreciated.

​Cahill is recasting the team to be able to mix their game up with the more traditional values associated with Tipperary hurling, where the ball travels far and long, to more deliberate approach work. Both blended well here to leave them six points up twice in the first half and eight up in the second half.

That they didn’t stay ahead each time is one of the positives Galway will take from Thurles, but letting teams off is becoming too much of a habit for them

“We’ve started a lot of games slowly this year, that is definitely a concern,” acknowledged Galway manager Henry Shefflin. “Is it something we need to look at? Is it the warm-up? Training during the week or whatever?

“We’ll look at various different things but you have got to get to the pitch of the game because you can’t give up those leads and, as hard as we tried to pull them back, which we did, the lads never gave up.”

For Tipperary, their obvious concern was not making their dominance count – though Cahill was conciliatory towards that.

“It’s areas, maybe, of us switching off. And it’s areas that are down to the heavy block of training that all teams are doing. They’re not machines, they can’t stay shooting the lights out for a full 70 minutes,” he said.

But the overall project is coming along nicely, he acknowledged.

“That’s starting to come to the fore in our work and in our plan. I wouldn’t even call it a plan. As a management team we are doing our best to give these guys extra strings to their bow.

“Tipp is known as a traditional county and you move the ball as fast as possible from A to B and we’ve found out in recent years that teams figure you out and they tend to deal with that.

“I suppose what I’m trying to say is that we’re trying to bring a variation to our play and you could see that today at certain stages. We changed it up quite a bit and we’ll continue to try and work on that and see if we can master it a bit better for later on.”

In that sense the industry and deft passing of Willie Connors, who added two points, was welcome, as was Conor Bowe’s powerful performance from half-back.

They also had to contend with the loss of Bryan O’Mara and Jake Morris in the opening half with hamstring injuries.

Their 0-16 to 0-13 interval lead might have been more had Darach Fahy not denied Seán Ryan from close range after Ryan had turned TJ Brennan to get on to a lovely Bowe delivery on 17 minutes.

Galway had reeled in Tipperary in the last 10 minutes of the opening half when they found themselves 0-14 to 0-8 down, but they let them away again in the third quarter when Mark Kehoe, Morris’s replacement, ran riot with three points.

At one stage it was 0-21 to 0-13 in Tipp’s favour but Galway hit seven points in succession and were level when Linnane made the most of a clever Conor Whelan flick on 63 minutes.

Crucially for Tipp, Galway never got ahead and the home side pushed three in front as Evan Niland was off target with three good chances.

Galway still have Cathal Mannion and Brian Concannon to come back in, among others, and Cianan Fahy at wing-back and Conor Cooney, in for his first start, did show leadership.

“Unfortunately we had too many fires to put out,” said Shefflin. “We were trying to get players in but it’s a bit disappointing because we knew today was a big game.”

League reticence, whereby teams are reluctant to openly target an overall win in the competition, is prevalent – but not with Cahill.

“A lot is talked about the league,” he said. “It’s nearly a dreaded thing now to go and win the league, for the way the championship is structured. But the league is a national title and I’ve always said that we in Tipp need to get back winning titles. If it’s on offer, you have to go after it. So if we do find ourselves in the hunt for a league title in the latter stages, we will be going hard after it.”

They showed that much and more here.

Scorers – Tipperary: G O’Connor 1-13 (1-0 pen, 0-9f); M Kehoe 0-3; W Connors, C Bowe 0-2 each; J McGrath, S Kenneally, A Tynan, S Kennedy, C Morgan, J Morris 0-1 each. Galway: E Niland 0-10 (9f); C Cooney 0-5; C Whelan, T Monaghan, G Lee 0-2 each; C Fahy, D O’Shea, S Linnane 0-1 each.

Tipperary: B Hogan 7; C Morgan 7, R Maher 8, M Breen 7; B O’Mara 6, R Byrne 6, C Bowe 8; W Connors 8, S Kennedy 7; J McGrath 7, G O’Connor 9, A Tynan 6; S Kenneally 6, J Morris 6, S Ryan 6. Subs: J Ryan 7 for O’Mara (inj, 16), M Kehoe 8 for Morris (inj, 22), B Seymour 6 for Ryan (52), D Stakelum for Tynan (61), C Stakelum for Kenneally (69), P Maher for Stakelum (64, temp).

Galway: D Fahy 7; J Grealish 7, TJ Brennan 5, P Mannion 6; R Glennon 6, S Cooney 6, C Fahy 8; D O’Shea 6, G Lee 7; T Monaghan 7, C Whelan 7, J Cooney 5; J Flynn 6, C Cooney 9, E Niland 7. Subs: D Morrissey 7 for Brennan (24), D Burke 7 for Glennon (h-t), S Linnane 6 for S Cooney (45), J Ryan 7 for J Cooney (52), S Linnane for Glennon (35-h-t temp).

REF: C Lyons (Cork).

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