Ferocious and formidable, Eamon O’Shea tips his hat to Kilkenny

Tipperary manager gracious in defeat and admits his side struggled to cope on the day

 

Rarely was the losing of an All-Ireland hurling final greeted with such disbelief, nor indeed acceptance. Because as difficult as Eamon O’Shea found Tipperary’s defeat to Kilkenny to comprehend, that realisation that victory was not to be theirs, he couldn’t but temper it with the simple statement of fact.

“Sure I can say this, that or the other about our performance,” said O’Shea. “But you have to give huge credit to the opposition. They’ve won the All-Ireland. Both of us came up to do that, but they’re going home with it, because they were the better team on the day.

“I felt we played okay. We started off well again, and then they came into again. But it was a very intense game, with a lot more mistakes than the last day, from both teams. We were happy enough to be up at half-time, and I thought we were in a reasonable good position.

“But they certainly got a run on us, and just dominated for that period. I suppose we didn’t fully recover, to be honest. We battled, really battled hard, to stay in the game. But we were operating on bits and pieces.

“And the critical thing is they played the game on their terms, which is the right thing to do. And we couldn’t seem to open it up like we did the last day. Again, that’s credit to them.”

Nor could O’Shea deny the source of Kilkenny’s ferocity – from their half back all the way through to the Powers up front, John and Richie.

“Yeah, and we tried to match it, and we did match it for periods. We hung in there, and it wasn’t to be in the end, but again we were living off bits and pieces. We could never impose the game we wanted to play. We tried to create space. And they probably bunched us a little. And when you’re trying to force the issue it’s never any easier, and that’s probably one of the things we’d regret.”

Still, while admitting Kilkenny were ferocious in their approach, O’Shea himself prompted the next question: the why?

“And I don’t know. I just don’t have the answer now. I mean you can never figure out tactics when you play Kilkenny. They just went ferociously for the ball, and I thought they closed down the space we wanted to create. I think we missed one or two chances, but again, on the balance of the game, they were ahead of us. I don’t think I could rationalise it any other way than that.

“Again, that’s to the opposition’s credit. Their imposed their will. They are formidable. Sometimes when you play against a formidable team, and they are a formidable team, they are formidable. We can sit here and talk about what happened, but they really are an outstanding team. We believe we are a very good team.

“Today we just couldn’t get the result we wanted. But my belief is that we left the championship a better place. We worked really hard to get up to what we considered a top level. We achieved the level we wanted to hit in one game. I can’t tell you how hard the team worked to be the best they could. It doesn’t come out in result and doesn’t show up in the scoreline, but in terms of what the team tried to do, I can only say they are a credit to sport. They are a credit in my view to Tipperary hurling, albeit they didn’t get the result today.”

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