There was something all too familar about last week’s Munster U-21 Hurling Championship semi-final for Tipperary manager TJ Connolly and his team, writes Eamonn Wynne.
Twelve months ago Tipp narrowly lost to Clare in extra time after a terrific encounter at the same stage in Cusack Park. With eight of the players who were on duty that night, TJ and his team suffered a similar fate at the Gaelic Grounds on Thursday night last, losing to Limerick by 2 points.
“A moral victory in Ennis last year was no good to us. We waited 12 months and now we’re just as sick going home out of Limerick as we were leaving Ennis this time last year”, said the Tipp boss.
“Limerick got the start we were so mad to get. We spoke about it all week and in the weeks leading up to the game that you need to hit the ground running, especially when you come away from home. We wanted to set the tone and put Limerick on the back foot, but it went completely the opposite way. I felt we could have pushed on, we were good enough to push on and win it but then we conceded another soft goal, an absolute killer. To go down 12 points it sucked the energy out of us to come all the way back again. In fairness to our boys they came back and we could have driven on to win it but we didn’t and we’re hugely disappointed.
At half time we were delighted to be only 5 points down because it could have been a lot worse. We knew we had the hurlers to get us back into the game, we were just waiting for that chance to take off and for the team to ignite. We’ve huge work put into this but in the U-21 championship you get just one crack of the whip. Limerick had a man sent off but you’d wonder would you be better off taking on a team with 15 players because everything seemed to go all over the place again, trying to see who was the loose man”.
When asked if his team had been guilty of overplaying the ball he said “the players are out there to play, you can’t hit the ball for them and when they go over the white line they make the decisions. We needed to go more direct than we were going”.