The disappointment was evident, but so too was the class of Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy in his post-match comments in the Croke Park press room.
Like Waterford at this stage last year, his side came into Sunday’s semi-final buoyed by their League and Munster successes and were warm favourites to progress to the first Sunday in September. But alas it was not to be for the Premiermen.
The Tipp boss was warm in his praise for both his panel and Waterford’s after a nerve shredding 70 minutes during which his team failed to avail of the goal opportunities that could well have swung the game their way.
“If there’s been a team that’s deserved to get to an All-Ireland in the last five to six years, it’s been Waterford,” said Sheedy. “And I’d like to compliment them.”
Of his own team, he declared: “We came here with all guns blazing and we just came up short. The 33 lads I have, they’ve given everything I’ve asked of them. And they’ll come back again, they’ll come back stronger.
“Maybe we lacked a bit of a killer punch and that bit of experience of an All-Ireland semi-final but you learn from that. I’d just like to compliment everyone that’s made my job so easy over the last 12 months.”
Continued Sheedy: “Naturally we’re going to be very disappointed. We were aware of the challenge today and we just came up short.
“Again, we had 33 lads there putting it in and when you get to an All-Ireland semi-final, there can be only a puck of a ball in it and that’s exactly what happened there today.”
He offered a concise assessment of the match while a Croke Park official grew tetchy in his efforts to get Sheedy back into the deathly silent Tipp dressing room.
“The game ebbed and flowed. The disallowed goal? Touch and go. Seamus Callinan’s chance – the match hung on little things like that…that’s hurling.”
Yet, considering last season’s traumatic summer, 2008 could only be viewed as progress for Tipp, a point which Sheedy agreed with.
“Progress made,” he replied. “Naturally we’re going to be very, very disappointed. We would have liked to have got to the final. And when you look at Kilkenny last week, whether it was ourselves or whether it was Waterford who were going to be in it, we were going to go in as underdogs.
And what now of the decider?
“I think it’ll be a great final. Kilkenny are the form team, Waterford deserve their chance to get in and play in an All-Ireland final. They’re a great bunch of lads and Davy’s done a great job with them, they deserve their chance and I wish both teams the best of luck.”