The first silverware of 2014 to arrive in the county came courtesy of the U21 footballers who last Saturday afternoon put up an impressive performance to see off Mayo with a well deserved two point win in the inaugural Hastings Shield Final.
The Tipp selectors had to re gig the original team selection for the game at Ardagh, Co. Longford before a ball was kicked due to the absences of a number of players with other GAA and work commitments, and with a panel of twenty players on duty a massive effort would be required by everyone to get over the line.
Showing a complete transformation from the previous week’s defeat at the hands of Meath, the intensity and commitment was back in abundance and with the midfield partnership of Stephen O’Brien and Colin Riordan enjoying a near monopoly of possession, the foundations for victory were well and truly laid.
Captain John Meagher opted to play with the strong wind and with an amount of early possession going unconverted, Stephen O’Brien eventually broke the deadlock to get the scoring underway with a pointed free after six minutes.
With the Tipp backs giving little away, Mayo’s Kevin Gibbons on one of the very rare occasions he got inside Conor O’Sullivan, raced in to give Gearoid Slattery no chance with their first goal and a two point lead with ten minutes gone.
However this would be the only occasion where Mayo would lead and it was short lived as straight from the kick out the ball found Colin O’Riordan who worked his way past the Mayo defence to put Tipp back in front with a cracking goal.
O’Riordan slotted over a further two points, Paul Shanahan who had a goal bound shot well saved by Mayo goalie Michael Moore also pointed while Sean Flynn with three points including two frees left Tipp comfortably ahead by seven points.
Mayo came storming back with three unanswered points to leave it 1-7 to 1-3 at the break with full forward Anthony Jordan who was well marshalled up to then by John Meagher landing two points while centre forward Adam Gallagher was also on target pointing from a close in free.
While the wind eased a little in the second half it was it was still advantage Mayo but it would be Tipp’s Colin O’Riordan who would open the second half scoring with a pointed free.
Mayo’s Diarmuid O’Connor and Liam Casey exchanged points before Mayo added two points to narrow the gap to three, 1-9 to 1-6, with fifteen minutes remaining. Mayo continued to ask questions of the Tipp backs but Kevin Fahey, Niall and Conor O’Sullivan along with John Meagher all put their bodies on the line.
Tipp had stretched the lead to six points when a high ball from Paul Shanahan which bobbled around the square was finished to the net by Dean McEnroe
And showing a never say die attitude back came Mayo as they did in the closing stages of the first half grinding out several attacks with centre forward Adam Gallagher spearheading the revival with a goal and two pointed frees ensuring an anxious last couple of minutes for Tipp.
However Tipp survived the onslaught and when Stephen O’Brien landed a long range point to stem the tide, it steadied everyone’s nerves helping Tipp to a well deserved victory.
After the game Tipperarys Captain John Meagher (Loughmore/Castleiney) was presented with the Hastings Shield by a member of the Longford Co. Board.
Tipperary - Gearoid Slattery (Cashel KC), Niall O’Sullivan (Moycarkey Borris), John Meagher (Loughmore/Castleiney) Capt, Conor O’Sullivan (Galtee Rvs), McGuire (Kilsheelan/Kilcash), Kevin Fahey (Clonmel Comms), Tom Meade (Moyne/Templetuohy), Stephen O’Brien (Ballina) 0-2 (1free), Colin O’Riordan (JK Brackens) 1-3, Liam Casey (Cahir) 0-1, John McGrath (Loughmore/Castleiney), Sean Flynn (Fr Sheehys) 0-3 ( 0-2 frees), Paul Shanahan (Upperchurch/Drombane) 0-1, Mark Russell (Lattin/Cullen), Dean McEnroe (JK Brackens) 1-0.
Subs. Adrian), Shane Hassett (Drom/Inch), Josh Keane (Golden/Kilfeacle) for Dean McEnroe, Pierce Richardson (Arravale Rvs) for Adrian McGuire, Ed O’Meara (Aherlow) for Tom Meade, Jamie Moloney (Drom/Inch for Paul Shanahan.
Mayo - Michael Moore, Darragh Ruane, Liam Ketterick, Aidan Butler, David O’Reilly, Stephen Coen, Joe Geraghty, Diarmuid O’Connor 0-1, Gareth O’Donnell, Ronan Neary, Adam Gallagher 1-4 (0-4 frees), Steven Conry, Brian Heneghan , Anthony Jordan 0-3 (0-2 frees), Kevin Gibbons 1-0.
Subs. Cian Burke, Padraig O’Hora, Tom Clarke, Aidan O’Sullivan.