Tipp manager Declan Ryan regards his team as “a work in progress” at this stage of the season, and he was delighted with the way they battled to beat Waterford in Saturday night’s National Hurling League game at Semple Stadium.
“It was a funny kind of game. 1-20 was a good score but there were only 3 or 4 points in it for a lot of the second half and we were up two men (after Waterford’s Shane O’Sullivan and Clinton Hennessy were sent off), so that’s something we have to work on”.
He admitted they were getting a bit worried about playing under lights (this was their third successive evening match) because their record hasn’t been good, following defeats by Kilkenny and Dublin. “We’re looking forward to hurling in the daylight now. It’s good to get a win and we’re delighted to be off the mark.”
When it was pointed out to him that his side conceded 8 or 9 scoreable frees he said this was something they would continue to work on; he was sure they would get there “before the heavy duty stuff”.
He revealed that Shane McGrath had a bug and was substituted after a half an hour when he complained of feeling unwell.
Ryan praised Noel McGrath and Pa Bourke for their fantastic contributions. “They’re two great stick men and the dry night suited them, they put over some lovely points. John O’Keeffe could also be very happy with his outing, he got a knock in the second half that took the wind out of him, but he played very nicely on the ball.”
He said it was good to have Padraic Maher to slot into centre back when Conor O’Mahony isn’t available.
Referring to the defeats in their first two matches, Noel McGrath said they knew that once they were working well in training it would come right at some stage. “We played very well in patches tonight and not so well at other times. We have to move on from here and try and get a few more performances and wins in the next few weeks. We’ll take the positives from that and work on anything we need to in the next few weeks.”
Waterford manager Davy Fitzgerald was reluctant to criticise Wexford referee James Owens, despite seeing two of his players sent off.He said that Shane O’Sullivan told him he went to play the ball hard and he lost it in the lights. “Tommy Ryan was through on goal and he was fouled in the same way that Patrick Maher was fouled, (leading to Clinton Hennessy’s sending off), but it just didn’t look as bad, that was the thing.
I’m not going to dwell on any of those things because I’m wicked proud of the boys. Down 11 starters, down to 13 men and we didn’t wilt. Maybe Tipp will have more questions after the match, I’m not sure.”
He predicted his side would take a few beatings in the League but added, “I don’t mind being beaten if we show that character.” He said the only question was why did it take until two of their players were sent off before they decided to let loose.
“Tipp are a super team, you could see why they are All-Ireland champions. Noel McGrath was unreal tonight”, the Waterford boss said, while predicting that his centre back would take note of the way the Tipp player had performed.