Eamonn O’Shea relishing date with Offaly in quarter-final

Tipperary manager Eamon O’Shea is looking forward to Sunday’s National Hurling League quarter-final against Offaly in Tullamore, writes

Tipperary manager Eamon O’Shea is looking forward to Sunday’s National Hurling League quarter-final against Offaly in Tullamore, writes

Eamonn Wynne.

The winners of Sunday’s game at O’Connor Park, which starts at 3pm, will play either Waterford or Galway in the semi-final on April 19.

“Offaly gave us a good game in the qualifiers last year, they’re my neighbours and I have huge time for them”, he said after his team beat Cork in Sunday’s final group game at Pairc Ui Rinn.

Both teams had already qualified for the last eight but still produced a very exciting tussle, as Tipp recovered from 12 points down to win by a point.

“I think it was a humdinger”, said the Tipp boss. “I think you just need to be careful about defining a game as a dead rubber. We don’t consider any game a dead rubber.

We’ve been through a fair bit in the last 18 months, you know. You learn something. I thought the team responded well, I was happy with their response.

I think the mental resolve of the team had not buckled, even though we were down 12 points. The substitutions had made a difference but the resolve of the team was strong, even if we hadn’t managed to win the game I’d have been happy. I’m happy we performed when we were under pressure.

They (Tipp) are an experienced team, you’d expect them to be able to do some of that (to stay calm and keep passing the ball). Cork were buzzing at various points of the game and they could take a lot from those. We had our dominant patch at the end of the game when we got a run, it’s hard to stop a run like we had there near the end. It was certainly a great match. It was just one of those days when it was great to be part of it.

Games take on a life of their own, both teams were trying to play their way for a win and when that happens you get a good score like that.

It’s a bit early for defining moments in a season but I think there’s a pattern that we’d be hoping we could continue. We’re trying to be better than the last game. What was most pleasing was getting youself back on track when you’re under a bit of pressure”.

However he added “I wouldn’t be lauding us too much, when you’re 12 points down after 53 minutes you must have been doing something wrong - see the game in its entirety and judge it in its entirety”.

O’Shea said that captain Brendan Maher, who sustained a cut to his cheekbone and was replaced by Bonner Maher after a half an hour, was to have the injury x-rayed.

“That’s interesting”, was the Tipp manager’s reply when it was put to him that Cork manager Jimmy Barry Murphy described Tipperary as favourites for the All-Ireland title.

Barry Murphy, who praised Tipperary as a quality team with a huge wealth of talent, was left counting the cost of hamstring injuries that Mark Ellis, Alan Cadogan and Daniel Kearney all suffered during the game.

His team face Wexford in the quarter-finals at Pairc Ui Rinn on Sunday.