Tipperary coach Eamon O’Shea expecting a massive challenge from Galway

‘Galway have been really good this year . . and I think they are a really formidable team’

Tipperary manager Eamon O’Shea gives last-minute instructions to his players before the Munster final against Waterford. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Tipperary manager Eamon O’Shea gives last-minute instructions to his players before the Munster final against Waterford. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Some men deserve to be introduced by their full title. Professor Eamon O’Shea MA, MSc, PhD is an expert in social gerontology and the economics of ageing.

Others know O’Shea as the teary-eyed yet resilient hurling coach lyrically beating a solitary Tipperary drum in the bowels of Nowlan Park after that harrowing mid-summer defeat to Kilkenny in 2013.

“The view that Tipperary are not able to put up a fight, I would challenge that,” he insisted, his voice rising with every syllable. “These guys are honourable men who went to fight today. They came out on the wrong side of the fight, but these are men of honour.”

Caught cold

Kilkenny were gone within a fortnight, caught cold by a since rescinded red card for Henry Shefflin as a young Cork seemed hellbent on reigniting their glory days.

But none of that came to pass as the Kilkenny and Tipperary duopoly was reinforced last year and is now one victory away from its latest September instalment.

“I never really minded criticism that much,” said O’Shea recently. “As a manager you react occasionally but from my point of view being involved with Tipperary for the last three years the support I’ve got from people around has been huge to be honest. I may have reacted once or twice, you feel the pressure now and again, but for me it has been largely positive.”

He rails against the idea that Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final is viewed as the second last game of his tenure. “Oh no, no, no, no. We live in the now because it’s the only time we have. I think it’s a good philosophy for life because you don’t know anything about what’s going to happen in the future. I’m really enjoying it to be honest.

Galway have been really good this year, consistent, they’re strong and I think they are a formidable team,” he continued. “It’s a truism, it’s often repeated, but it is true that they are one of the teams along with ourselves and others that can win the All-Ireland. That’s certainly true this year because they have been very impressive in terms of their consistency, their strength and I think that’s the challenge we face. It’s a massive challenge for us.”

O’Shea is not sure last year’s meeting between the sides has much relevance this time.

“No more than ourselves I wouldn’t be looking back over games and trying to make conjecture about games that have gone by and sort of extrapolate from what happened last year to this year. Seasons are different and teams do learn from their experiences, no more than we did, so you are going to see a very different game than previous games. You can’t second guess the type of game that is coming up, all I know is that it’s going to be difficult.

Good game

Jason FlynnCathal Mannion

O’Shea understands the sacrifices players make but stresses the need to keep sporting matters in perspective.

“I’m not sure if it’s the pressures but it’s the humdrumness of it all. If you’re coming in for three or four nights, I certainly feel the players need perspective, that they need to be doing other things as well. Particularly with their own clubs. . . I’d always be encouraging players to put their education and career very high on their agenda. Hurling as well. It’s very important that we have careers because your career will long outlast your hurling prowess, however good you are. It would be a big mistake to do anything to damage your long-time earnings.

“We have serious, serious people who work hard with the young lads coming in. Things have evolved a little bit over the last number of years. A lot of the older players helped that happen, even some of the lads who have retired now, and brought that along. Even this year, the likes of Larry Corbett is still trying to work on lads coming on.”

Honourable lads who will go out to fight in Croke Park this Sunday.

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