Date Published: 18-Aug-2010
WE are back to where we were last September. And, frankly, another All-Ireland hurling final showdown between champions Kilkenny and Tipperary comes as no great surprise. It’s what the pundits had predicted; the bookies had restricted their odds against; and what the general sporting wanted. Last year’s classic has whetted the appetite for more.
Kilkenny’s progress to a fifth consecutive All-Ireland final was widely anticipated and the Cats have achieved that notable feat with the minimum of fuss or histrionics. Heads down and as single-minded as ever, no team has come close to even ruffling their feathers this summer. If anything, they look more invincible now than ever.
Yet, there is general celebration that Tipperary have made it back to the final again. They are perceived as the best equipped outfit to trouble Kilkenny and having rattled the title holders to the core last September, they won’t be intimidated in Croke Park next month. After a traumatic day against Cork idown by the Lee last June, their form has been on a gradual upward curve.
The extent of Tipperary’s rehabilitation was underlined when they comfortably disposed of Waterford’s challenge in last Sunday’s semi-final. The general assumption was that it wouldn’t be the high scoring shoot-out which characterised their quarter-final triumph over Galway due to Waterford’s new-found tactic of defending in numbers and Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh tending to play extremely deep at centre back.
The Munster champions were again set up that way, but Tipperary had their homework done and placing young Noel McGrath’s on the forty worked like a dream. The Loughmore teenager raised five white flags from play in total and there’s not much point in having a centre back repeatedly covering his full back line if his marker is going to town out the field. Brick Walsh, a little over-rated in my view, still did a fair amount of tidying up, but Waterford’s main defensive inspiration was under serious pressure for much of the match.
With Eoin Kelly making no impact up front and the gamble of starting young Barry O’Halloran in his first championship match backfiring badly, Waterford had again to rely on the admirable John Mullane for badly-need scoring impetus. As usual, the feisty De La Salle clubman was up for the battle, but he was eventually overpowered in an attack which simply lacked Tipperary’s range of score getters.
Against that background, Waterford were never going to carry the day. Typically, they tried hard as a team and, when introduced, veteran Ken McGrath made a fairly compelling statement against the validity of his continuing omission from the starting line up, but they were coming off second best in too many positions while, tactically, Tipperary were forcing the agenda.
Mind you, there was nothing between the teams, at least on the scoreboard, as they shared ten points between them in the opening quarter. Still, it was already noticeable that Tipperary’s movement and support play up front was causing significant trouble for the Waterford rearguard. McGrath and the recalled John O’Brien were quick to make an impact and when Lar Corbett fielded a long Padraic Maher delivery before booting to the net in the 23rd minute, you just sensed that the game was already up for Davy Fitzgerald’s men.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”
For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup
Date Published: 29-Jan-2013
Athenry FC 1
Kilbarrack United 2
(After extra time)
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.