TIPPERARY manager Declan Ryan hailed his team’s ability to score goals following last Sunday’s Munster senior hurling championship semi-final against Clare.
Three first half strikes helped to transform the Gaelic Grounds showdown after Clare had stunned the pre-match favourites with a blistering start.
Tipp bagged three goals against Cork in the quarter-final and added four more last Sunday to take their provincial championship haul to 7-41 from two outings.
Ryan said: “Our ability to get goals stood to us again. It would have been very bleak for us at half-time only for the goals we got in the first half. I thought they showed a lot of composure there even though we went down early on. We stuck at it and kept fighting, I think the work rate was very good. Overall we are just delighted to get through today, it was a slippery one for us. Clare have done a lot of great work at underage in recent years and were unlucky not to win a minor last year. They won the Under-21 (in 2009) and they are obviously a coming force.”
Ryan admitted that Tipperary must improve again for the challenge that awaits them on July 10 against Waterford at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
He said: “The performance in the first 20 minutes wouldn’t be what you’d be looking for in a Munster semi-final. But I was delighted the way we got the couple of goals to keep us in the game and we responded well to the challenge, so we’re delighted to be in a Munster final.
“There is a lot of composure in the group, there is a lot of experience. Even the younger guys, they are winners. They have competed at a very high level now for a number of years. That and the work rate ethic that Tommy Dunne and Cian O’Neill have in them, I think that’s what paid off today.
“We are after having two good games and the Munster final will be a huge battle as well, there is no doubt about that. Waterford will be coming defending their Munster crown. But this is why the guys train so hard, for days like today and full credit to them the way they battled through it out there.”
Waterford’s players came through a full round of club fixtures unscathed last weekend but Ryan will be sweating on the fitness of his charges next weekend with club games down for decision.
The Clonoulty-Rossmore clubman said: “Every day these guys play the intensity is fairly good so we are hoping they come through next weekend without injury.”
And Ryan acknowledged that Waterford will present formidable opposition in the provincial final.
He reflected: “We were at the game (v Limerick). Waterford are a very experienced team. They play a different type of hurling I suppose, they play defensive and they have goal-scoring ability as well. So it’s going to be a huge battle. It’s going to be a 50-50 game, Waterford are defending Munster champions but we are looking forward to it now at this stage.”
Ryan also paid tribute to top scorer Seamus Callanan, who notched 1-5 from play following on from the Drom & Inch star’s 0-5 haul in the Cork game.
Callanan, who scored two points after coming on as sub in last year’s All-Ireland final, missed the entire National League campaign with a broken collarbone but has come back refreshed and hungry for the championship season.
Ryan nodded: “He is fresh, he’s trained very well over the last number of weeks and rifled over some nice points again today. We have a lot of potential in our forwards from a scoring point of view. We hit a lot of wides there (nine in the second half) and that is something we have to work on, as well as getting off to a better start the next day.”
Ahead of the Munster final, Ryan will have plenty of food for thought before naming a starting 15.
John O’Keeffe and David Young struggled on the right side of Tipp’s defence and were both hauled off at half-time.
Paddy Stapleton should return to the right corner back position for the Déise showdown while fit-again Brendan Maher could be earmarked for a place in the half-back line.
Ryan said: “Any day you play Munster championship your defence are going to be well tested. It will be well tested the next day no doubt but we are delighted the way the defence finished up today, they battled very hard in the second half.”