TIPPERARY’S man of the match Pádraic Maher admitted that last Sunday’s Munster senior hurling championship semi-final victory over Clare was a real battle.
Tipp recovered from a sluggish start to eventually claim an eight-point victory – with goals proving the difference between the sides in a high-scoring encounter.
And Maher said that with the pressure on the defence in the early stages, having a forward line capable of striking at crucial times is a source of comfort.
The Thurles Sarsfields powerhouse said: “We were under fierce pressure in the first few minutes but we knew we had the forward line capable of doing damage if we got the ball into them. We were sluggish but after a while we eventually got the ball in and with the likes of Séamie, Lar, Eoin and Noel we’ve got the forwards to tuck the goals away. Thankfully they did that and we’re glad to be in the Munster final.”
Maher added: “It was a battle. The first 20 minutes we weren’t awake I suppose. We were expecting that from Clare; it was always going to be a battle and no-one was giving them a chance. Thankfully we showed a bit of character and the boys got in a few goals to take the pressure off and at least we pulled through.”
Maher decorated a brilliant individual display with two points – one in each half.
And he smiled: :It’s always nice to get scores but we do our bit defending and leave the boys to do the scoring. We have to give Clare great credit. The score-line at the end didn’t reflect the game; Séamie’s goal at the end put a bit of a gap on it but to be honest we’d have taken a one-point win.”
Once again, Tipp’s ability to react in the face of adversity was a key factor.
Against Cork, the team rallied after the Rebels clawed back an eight-point deficit to pull away and win by eight.
And after Clare’s whirlwind start, which saw the Banner County lead by six points, Tipp won by nine points to cap a 17-point swing.
Maher said: “That’s a good sign in the team – we didn’t panic and the forwards got on top for a while and swung the game around for us.
“They (Clare) were always going to try different things and no-one was giving them a chance but they knew themselves they would give us a battle. Clare always give Tipp a good battle. Even two years ago they could have beaten us at the end so we knew what to expect today and we got through the battle today.”
And Maher acknowledged that two hard-fought tussles against Cork and Clare have set Tipp up nicely for a Munster final clash against Waterford on July 10.
He said: “Waterford got a good battle against Limerick last week and Clare gave us one today. We knew what they were capable of from under-21 teams we’ve played in the last few years and senior as well.”