Tipp’s second successive victory in the National Hurling League has shown that the team is on the right road, according to manager Declan Ryan.
A week after they beat Waterford at Semple Stadium, Tipp were too strong for Offaly at Nenagh’s MacDonagh Park on Sunday, easing to a 13-points victory.
“They’re improving. We have a way to go yet but I think we’re going in the right direction, the lads are improving every week. Fair play to them, they’re doing what’s asked of them”, was the manager’s verdict after the match.
The recent victories, following defeats by Kilkenny and Dublin in the opening rounds have offered the All-Ireland champions a glimmer of hope that they could yet reach the League Final, although Ryan admits that he hasn’t given that much thought,
“We’re just concentrating on our performances at the moment, and they’re going in the right direction and the management team are happy with that”.
He said that their next two matches - away to Cork on Sunday week, 27th, and away to Galway the following Sunday - would be difficult and would give them a better indication of their current state of health.
He said the break this weekend would allow the players to re-charge their batteries.
Declan said they had a couple of injuries at half-time on Sunday so they had to make changes, but they were happy with the way the second half progressed.
“Gearoid Ryan had a great first half and Brendan Maher had a great hour, so we’re delighted with the way they’re going. Shane Bourke did very well and he was called in at short notice (in the 4th minute) when Eoin Kelly was injured.
John O’Keeffe (the wing back) did fine, he’s a very good man on the ball and a very intelligent player, so I’m delighted with his progress at the moment.”
Despite losing all four of their League matches, Offaly manager Joe Dooley remains confident that his team’s fortunes will improve.
“We’ve lots of good hurlers, they’re working hard and things will come right”, he stated.
“We were 4 points down at half time but well in the game. We probably should have been even level at half time, we missed a few chances in the first half. In the second half, with 10 minutes to go, there were still only 4 or 5 points in it but Tipperary finished stronger than we did.
We looked tired in the last 10 minutes, but this was still a big improvement on our last two performances. The lads battled hard and we would take encouragement from it. We have 3 games left and we’ll have to win two of those to stay up”.
Offaly have to face Wexford, Waterford and Kilkenny in their remaining games and he admitted that the match against fellow strugglers Wexford would be the important one.
“We’re still without a lot of players, and there’s no sign of any of them coming back soon, unfortunately. We’ll keep working with what we have.
Dan Currams was back today and I thought he hurled well, and David Franks hurled reasonably well and David Kenny had a steady game at full back.
But we’ll have to improve all over the field. A point from play in the second half wasn’t good enough, we were against the breeze and Tipp were strong but we need to be scoring more”, he added.