“Did no one believe me when I predicted how difficult this game would be”, asks a
relieved Eoin Kelly

Eamonn Lacey

Eamonn Lacey

The three week build up to the All-Ireland final began minutes after Tipperary edged home after having endured a reality check in their bid to win back to back All-Ireland titles.

A relieved captain Eoin Kelly admitted shortly after his team had survived a scare in Croke Park that the performance would just not be good enough against Kilkenny in three weeks time.

By saying that he was not taking anything away from Dublin and the level of intensity they brought to Croke Park on Sunday.

The Mullinahone man said he had nothing but admiration for the way Dublin had played and it was obvious to all that they were an emerging force which could only be good for the game.

Kelly reminded journalists waiting for after match quotes on Sunday that he had spelled it out in no uncertain terms in the semi-final press night that Tipperary expected Dublin to be some test.

“I don’t know if anybody believed what I was saying then,” said the Tipperary captain who based his assumptions on the basis that Dublin had beaten Tipperary in their last two league encounters.

The captain said they knew Dublin could hurl with an ‘in our face’ intensity which was needed at this level and they were all well aware of what Dublin were capable of.

“If we were told coming up here today that we were going to win by three or four points we would have gladly taken that,” he said.

“It’s job done and we are back in an All-Ireland “ said Kelly.

He said that Dublin were excellent at reducing the space for the Tipp forwards, gave nobody any time to settle with their crowding tactics and they could hurl as well.

“They have worked on that crowding and maybe they are bringing a bit of the football tactics to it and they can hurl as well. You can be sure that we are going to see them in more All-Ireland semi finals and finals in the future,” added the Tipp captain.

He felt that prior to the game Tipperary were hyped up by everybody and this would bring everybody back down to earth.

”They had four or five players missing, God knows what would have happened if they had those lads,” he said.

Kelly insisted that the Tipperary performance on the day would not win an All-Ireland title.

“We have bags of stuff to be working on now, which is probably a good thing, if we have another one of those performances we are not going to get what we want,” he said.

“We would not be happy with that performance today. If we play badly the next day and if we are ahead by one point on the board we will take it but that performance today would not do against Kilkenny,” said the captain.

He said Tipperary had to take the positives out of the game as well.

He was encouraged by the character shown by the team to dig out a result in the difficult circumstances that they were faced with .

Midfielder Shane McGrath said that none of the players would be thinking of back to back All-Irelands. The players, he said, would just be focussed on winning on the day against Kilkenny.

“If you want to be judged as a great team you have to beat a great team,” he said.

Conor O’Mahony, who had a storming game at centre back in the second half, said nobody had their mind on an All-Ireland final prior to the Dublin game.

He praised the backroom staff for drilling it into them at every opportunity on how difficult a job they had against Dublin and that stood to them because they were focused on the day for the contest.

“We have taken it one step at a time and we had to look after today first. We had spoken about not having to panic if things were not going right for us and we did not panic today and scored the crucial few points when we needed them to take us over the line,” he said.

“We worked hard for each other, we kept going and we got there,” he said.