Tipperary Supporters Club

Founded 1986

Co. Tipperary

More progress and learnings from Dublin trip

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Source: Nenagh Guardian

By Shane Brophy

In every campaign, there are yardsticks of measuring progress and this win over Dublin is such a one for Tipperary.

Twelve months ago, Dublin left Thurles as winners in a game where Tipp made a late burst at the end to get within a point, but overall Dublin were the better and more assured team with a clear and coherent gameplan.

On Saturday, Tipp matched up to that and more, and while the performance was arguably their poorest in the three league games so far, that they were still able to ease away to a five point win is another positive.

Dublin will feel this is a game they left behind them considering the dominance they enjoyed in the first half, but went in at the break trailing by a point, 0-14 to 0-13. They had most of the ball and most of the scoring opportunities, indeed having five shots at the target inside the opening three minutes but only scored one, that from Alex Considine who was one of their bright points, along with the outstanding Donal Burke whose roving role caused Tipperary no end of problems, finishing with eight from play out of his tally of fifteen, before coming off late on through injury.

Tipp couldn’t get a handle on him in the first half, not helped by the selection of Michael Breen at right wing back. This isn’t a criticism of the Ballina clubman who was playing his first game in the position, after being primarily a midfielder/half forward for most of his career, before playing the first five games of the season at full back where he was showing promise.

One wonders what the thinking was of moving Breen to wing back, or more interestingly, having Bryan O’Mara at full back. It could well be that the management were keen to look at other options for the position, and the Holycross/Ballycahill clubman will have provided them with plenty of food for thought with his performance.

He got a real test from Alex Considine who is quick and powerful. On the negative side, O’Mara was beaten to the ball in the first half but from there his defensive instincts were outstanding. On three occasions, he got a block down on Considine’s shot and on another occasion, he executed a beautiful dispossession with a flick off the hurl. Then, on one of the few occasions the Tipp rear-guard was breached, he got back to put Fergal Whitely off as his goal chance rolled tamely wide.

In the second half, however, O’Mara was much more forceful in attacking the ball and had a greater handle on the Dublin attacker, including winning a race for possession in the 52nd minute with his raking clearance into the square ultimately leading to Jason Forde’s goal which provided the breathing room on the scoreboard that powered Tipp onto victory.

O’Mara’s best position is in the half back line and his greatest impact on the game will be from there but it is good to know he, along with Ronan Maher, are good options for a position that Tipperary really need to nail down going into the championship.

O’Mara’s inclusion was one of six changes from the second round win over Kilkenny with Nenagh Eire Og’s Conor McCarthy making his first start at corner back, and he can be happy with a solid performance, keeping his man scoreless. He has filled out massively in a physical sense since last summer and that is a great help in the modern inter-county game.

Johnny Ryan continues to grow in confidence in the other corner and that he was detailed to go on Donal Burke in a man-marking role in the second half and held him to two points from play, both of which the Arravale Rovers man couldn’t have done much more to pressurise him, suggests the trust the management have in his abilities.

In the half back line, Michael Breen’s struggles on Donal Burke wouldn’t have helped his claims in the position going forward, while Ronan Maher didn’t have a great influence on the game at centre back. Brian McGrath was going well on the other wing until he suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury sustained against Laois three weeks ago, which is frustrating as he faces another spell on the side-lines. Dan McCormack filled in at wing back thereafter and was his usual solid self.

The Borris-Ileigh clubman started at midfield along with Conor Stakelum, who was lively in the first half, but after McGrath’s injury, was taken off at half time as a precaution after he had suffered a similar injury against Laois.

It meant Noel McGrath and Seamus Kennedy partnered at midfield for the second half and both were solid if unspectacular, a theme of the quality of the game overall, which lacked intensity for the most part, so it is hard to get too excited about the nature of the Tipperary performance.

In the half forward line, Alan Tynan continues to adjust well to the demands of inter-county hurling. His ability to get on the ball and break tackles is a huge asset, as is his engine, going strong late in games from where he added two points from play.

Gearoid O’Connor also continues to grow and while he can be more prominent, as noteworthy from this game was his ball-winning ability in the air when Barry Hogan had to go long with his puckouts. Hogan wasn’t too busy between the posts but had to be alert late on to divert a Paul Crummey shot away and reacted quickly to Cian Boland’s rebound.

Jason Forde continues to thrive in the new regime with another big haul of 1-10, although the sight of him limping off late will be a concern. Mark Kehoe built on his display with Kilkenny in the Dillon Quirke Game with three points from play but his biggest contribution was creator for Conor Bowe’s goal shortly after half time, well finished after Kehoe’s turn and run at the heart of the Dublin defence providing the opportunity. Jake Morris beavered hard for little reward with just a point.

Bowe, along with Noel McGrath, were the only two of the Tipperary subs to make any real impact in a performance that overall lacked the energy from the wins over Laois and Kilkenny. That may well be down to the rigours of training as they aim to peak for the championship, but they well also be targeting the next league game against Waterford on Saturday week.

Not only is it in Semple Stadium where Liam Cahill will be proud to maintain their home record against his former charges, it provides the ideal opportunity to really test his players against one of the best teams in the country and from where we’ll get a real gauge of where this Tipperary team is at.

As well as that, there is the target of making a league semi-final and with six points already earned, one more win over Waterford or Antrim will likely secure Tipp a place in the last four and an extra competitive game, or two if they reach the final, would do this group of players no harm at all.

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