THIRD EYE with Sean Flynn
Tipperary left it all out on the pitch in their seven-point defeat against Limerick on Sunday.
The workrate of the Tipperary team off the ball was a major feature of the performance with Colm Bonnar’s men hitting 92 tackles in the game. See leaders in panel below.
This savage workrate by the Tipperary team saw them generate 0-13 from turning over Limerick in possession, with 0-11 coming from dispossessions in the middle third of the pitch.
It is rare we see hurling teams commit to a full-court press at midfield and in their half back line but in the first half Tipperary really went after Limerick in the middle third of the pitch and it asked them serious questions. This meant that their defenders were spending extra time on the ball, or they had to give an extra pass in the defence, and this allowed the Tipperary forwards apply more pressure. This could be seen in the tackle numbers as 40 of their 92 tackles came from players in their midfield and forward line.
Tipperary had some plan which had been repped during the weeks between the Clare game and the inclusion of Barry Hogan made Colm Bonnar’s men less predictable on their restarts.
The Kiladangan net-minder’s ability to place balls in front of players in the middle third created some confusion between Diarmuid Byrnes and Declan Hannon.
The Tipperary team’s retention on their long puckout improved in this game but it was from the 52nd minute on where the restart collapsed. When Limerick had identified and stopped the threat of Ger Browne and Michael Breen this meant that Hogan had very little options to go long.
Tipperary had no Plan B if the long puck was being unsuccessful and many of the defenders did not look like they wanted a restart. Who could blame them as the effort had been savage for the previous 52 minutes and in the final quarter they were under enough pressure when the ball was in play.
From the 52nd minute on, Tipperary hit 10 long puck-outs which saw them retain possession on only two occasions. In this period, Limerick scored 2-2 off the Tipperary long restarts, the influence of their half forwards and midfield could be seen around the breaks.
Tipperary did something that not many teams have done to this Limerick team over the last four years and that is outshoot them in the game. The issue for Tipperary was the same as it is for all teams who come up against Limerick.
65% of their 48 shots came from outside the Limerick 45 metre line. They also created five goal chances and converted none of which is a natural consequence of losing players like Jason Forde, Seamus Callanan, John McGrath, and John O’Dwyer from your forward line.
There are some positives to be taken from last Sunday’s game and that performance would have been probably good enough to win a championship match five or six years ago. There lies the problem for the Tipperary senior team, our opponents have risen the bar over the last few years, and we are left taking positives from seven-point defeats against them.
The positives of the performance on Sunday were that if this Tipperary team has some semblance of a plan of how to play there are hurlers there to execute it.
It was tough to see Caibhre O Caireallean warming up the Limerick team as they powered home and the Tipperary team were running on empty. Without knowing anything that is happening inside of the current Tipperary camp and just commenting from the side-lines, the loss of O Caireallean and Gary Sweeney from the set-up is being felt.
The quality, detail, and personality they brought to their roles with the players allowed the players to reach peak physical condition to perform. They were also more than just an S&C person and a Nutritionist to the group which highlights their quality as individuals. The Setanta arrangement is in its infancy and there may be some teething problems, but future Tipperary managers must surely be handed a blank canvas to bring in the best people and personalities in any areas they see fit.