Triumphant Tipperary team manager Tommy Toomey was delighted with his team’s display, performance and work rate in their Munster final win over Cork.
The Arravale Rovers man, who was a selector in 2010 under John Evans, in Tipp’s only other win at this level, was understandly over the moon with his side’s achievement in ripping up the formbook and avoiding a third consecutive final defeat to Cork.
When put to him was he pleased with the overall display the Tipp boss answered:
“Yes. Very pleased, very pleased with the reaction of the boys. A goal before half time and a goal straight after half time, Cork usually drive on when they get that kind of a boost. I thought the lads held their composure well, kicked two good scores to get it back level and then stayed in the game. Any questions that were asked of the team tonight were answered. Cork nearly stole it at the end but that wouldn’t have been justified. I thought the lads deserved to win the game tonight.”
On the concession of a “silly” goal before the break, Tommy was understanding of the occasion involved and the pressure that comes with big games like Munster finals.
“We were caught and mistakes happen in these kind of games. They are nervous matches and we look to the players to learn and get experience and these are the games they are going to learn that from. We didn’t have to pay for it tonight thanks be to God. A few years ago we did when Cork got a goal in the last minute and we lost. Today we got the rub of the green at the end of it and won it. I give great credit to Cork and to the Tipperary team for a great display of football.”
Regarding what he thought at the break and what he said to the team at half-time, the Tipp manager added.
“We just said to keep playing, to believe in ourselves. That’s what it is about. If lads are afraid to play and afraid to drive in to the red jersey or the green and gold of Kerry, we have taught them nothing. I thought they have learned lessons from years gone by and I thought tonight they showed everything. We were tired at times in the games but the players stuck it out We are delighted with the display, we are delighted with the performance and we are delighted with the work rate of the team,” he added.
And when disaster seemingly struck 20 seconds after the re-start with a second goal conceded, Tommy weighed it up calmly.
“We were looking at it and saying it depends on the next score. You work and you know your team and you know what they can do. We knew that if we got possession we were going to hurt Cork. Cork struggled with a few of our players and their pace tonight. We knew if we got inside them our lads could score,” which was exactly as it turned out on the night.
Asked on what he thought of debutant Kevin O’Halloran who put in a super performance with six points including five ice-cool frees, Tommy replied.
“Brilliant young player, came from Portroe. Scored two goals for his club last Sunday in senior hurling. He’s a find for us this year. He’s a tremendous footballer and he showed it there tonight with real coolness over the dead ball.”
Of the leadership shown by the likes of senior players Ian Fahey, Steven O’Brien and of his team captain, the magnificent Colin O’Riordan, who defiantly rounded up his troops before they left the pitch at half-time, Tommy added.
“I think every team needs a leader. You are led from senior the whole way down and you will find those characters are there in all teams. Colin O’Riordan, what he had to put up with in the last fortnight was unreal since he got hurt against Sligo. He had no intention of falling out. We had to try and curtail him he was working so hard and it cost him a small bit tonight you could see his energy was not there but he fought for every ball, he worked for every ball and kept the team on sight. That’s what he is captain for and he really led by example there tonight,” concluded the Tipp manager.
Incidentally the only other link with the victorious team of 2010 is team coach Michael O’Loughlin who also served in that role under John Evans on that now-emulated night in Tralee five years ago.