The explosive start Tipperary enjoyed in Sunday’s semi-final was in stark contrast to the woeful start to the National Hurling League, an opening campaign defeat alluded to by manager Eamon O’Shea.
After putting such an horrendous start to the league behind them, Tipperary now find themselves pitched against Kilkenny in a National League final in Nowlan Park on Sunday week after wiping out the weak challenge of Dublin in a one sided semi final in Semple Stadium last Sunday.
“We were down four or five players coming into today. We’re very pleased, we didn’t have a good start to the league,” said the Tipperary manager after his team had secured passage to the final in the opening contest at the Semple Stadium double header.
“It’s good to be playing more competitive games, and that’s why I’m in favour of extending the league, to have more teams in it, which would benefit the game.
“Hurling is a fantastic game and the more chances to have good teams play against each other the better.
“I think the more games we have the better – it’s a difficult market out there with every other sport and I feel counties that aren’t in the top three or four need more games against the top teams.”
After watching his team comprehensively dismiss Dublin, O’Shea expressed satisfaction with the competition for places within his squad but said that he was not near fixing on a starting fifteen for championship hurling.
“It’s very competitive in our squad and when they get on the pitch they have to do as well as they can” he said.
“We did not get a good start in the league, so it’s very pleasing to end up where we have ended up. Sometimes you get an early goal, we had the breeze and the game today evolved in a particular way, it happens, it happened us down in Cork,” said the manager.
“It’s pleasing today but I’d have to say that’s about all it was. I’m pleased the team kept on playing to the end and kept on being competitive. I’m not trying to underplay it, it’s really good to be in a final. It’s just that you have to keep on working really hard to achieve anything.
“Every day is different, you can’t rest. You just try to get better – some days it goes your way and some days it doesn’t. It’s ok today.
“It’s really nice for the players – when you’re coming in and doing well in training, I’m a great believer in giving everybody an opportunity as much as possible. So from that point of view, it was pleasing.”
Asked about the final and the possibility of taking on either Kilkenny or Galway, prior to the start of the second semi final, O‘Shea said he had given no thought to the final.
“I hadn’t thought past this game and that’s being truthful. It didn’t really go for Dublin today but they are a strong team.
“It will be an interesting final. Whether it resonates further down the line, you can’t really be sure until it actually does.
“We won’t be putting any special significance to it – I can tell you that right now, except it’s a game.”