For Tippperary manager Declan Ryan the most pleasing aspect of the victory over Cork at Semple Stadium last Sunday was the manner in which his team responded to the challenge presented to them by Cork when they stormed back into the game in the second half.
When Cork managed to achieve parity with Tipperary with just fifteen minutes left on the clock, after being eight points adrift, Ryan felt the real character of the Tipperary team shone through.
At that point in the game Cork had been lifted by a phenomenal performance from Pat Horgan and they had all the momentum after storming back into the game before Lar Corbett shifted the balance again with a wonderful intervention to score a crucial point to tilt the balance back in Tipp’s favour.
After the game the Tipp manager paid tribute to the character of the team and the genuine leaders they had throughout the field.
“The fact that we held our nerve and did not panic when they came back was the most pleasing thing about the game. I think it showed the character in this team, we are very lucky in Tipperary at the moment that we have players with such character,” said the manager.
Ryan said he was very proud of the players and believed the performance that they put in was the culmination of a lot of hard work put in since January.
“We hurled very well in the first half and we managed to get a couple of goals and we were a few points up at half time. Whenever Tipp and Cork play you always know it’s going to be close, we were expecting a huge challenge from Cork today, we knew they would be well prepared under Denis Walsh and it was nothing less than we expected,” he said.
He praised the skill levels of both teams, who made the most of the dry ball, and said there had been some wonderful scores in the match and he believed Cork would be a force to be reckoned with in the championship.
The Clonoulty/Rossmore man said the goals in the first half were crucial and were well taken.
“When you give Lar and Eoin a chance in front of goal like that they are going to take it, they are fantastic ball strikers and Donal Og had no chance,” he said.
He had good news on Shane McGrath, who had to come off five minutes into the second half and his withdrawal was a huge loss to the team. The manager confirmed that it was a recurrence of a knee injury the midfielder had picked up ten days ago.
“He took a knock on the same knee but he will be fine,” said the manager.
Ryan expressed some satisfaction with the return to action of Conor O’Mahony and with the manner in which the Newport man put in such a commanding performance in the second half.
“He did himself no harm at all when he came in. He had been sick over the last few weeks and was carrying an injury. When he came on he proved what a fine man he is, he stood in at No. 6 and drove it forward. I was really delighted for him because he has worked so hard,” said manager after his first championship game in charge of the Tipp senior hurling team.
He praised his management team including Tommy Dunne and Cian O’Neill whom he said had put in tremendous work in preparing the players for their opening match in the championship.
One of the players who had to put in a huge effort to be ready for Sunday was Seamus Callanan who has been plagued by injury for most of the years.
The Drom/Inch man won the RTE man of the match accolade and he was delighted to be back in action for Tipperary in the championship.
Callanan, who scored five excellent points from play, and who moved from his wing forward position to centre forward in the second half, put in a solid performance.
Asked about Cork’s recovery Seamus said that it was inevitable that Cork were always going to have a good spell in the game where they would put Tipperary under pressure.
“Cork are a great team and when you play them it’s always a great game.We knew they were going to have a good patch and we came through it and we were strong in the end thankfully,” he said.
Callanan said he was delighted to get his place back in the starting fifteen and to get on the scoreboard.
“It’s all a bout confidence after coming back from such a long lay off and now hopefully I can build on that and bring it to the next level,” he said.
He said that everybody chipped in with great scores on the day and overall he thought it was a good team performance.
He said that they allowed Cork back into it in the second half but nobody on the field doubted their ability to go on and finish off the game.
“We never doubted ourselves, you cannot worry.We have leaders all over the field. We don’t have to look around for somebody to step up, you take the game by the scruff of the neck yourself really and go on from there. We believed in ourselves to get through in the end”, he said.
“A few of the lads came off the bench and they helped to finish the job. Benny and Woody came on and we took it on from there and everybody chipped in,” he said.
“We know we will have to continue to work very hard. We now have to concentrate on the Clare game in three weeks time, that is our next goal,” he said.