“Tipp dug out their victory, not through tactics, but good old-fashioned guts, determination and genuine players giving everything they had and putting it all on the line for the cause of Tipperary.”
Whatever about his premature Michael Flatley on Brian Cody’s shallow grave, Ger Loughnane got that much right. That was the first time this year anyone went toe-to-toe with Kilkenny, fifteen against fifteen, and committed themselves to a survival of the fittest. Ultimately they outhurled and overpowered the most complete team this unrivalled game has ever seen.
That faith which Tipp invested in themselves rather than some convoluted subterfuge was ultimately what drove them to victory at sodden Croker Park on Sunday.
What they demonstrated more than anything is that nothing is impossible. Kilkenny’s invincibility was always going to be finite, no matter what superb players they keep bringing through (and Clare’s minors were unlucky not to inflict a double Black & Amber disappointment in the curtain-raiser).
It took all they had, body and mind. Watching the early exchanges you wondered how on earth both teams, particularly Tipp, could last the pace. Croker is a massive pitch yet there didn’t seem to be a centimetre of space – in stark contrast to the two semi-finals when the losers, Cork and Waterford, surrendered too much ground, and the initiative.
Predicting that Tipp “will win more All-Irelands with this team” – a curious concession – Davy Fitzgerald, not surprisingly, saw it as a tactical triumph by their management; though there’s no getting away from his assertion that non-stop application is now compulsory.
“This is the first time in years that I have seen a team beating the Cats in terms of workrate – hooking, tackling, blocking,” he enthused in the ‘Daily Star’ on Monday morning. “Tipperary’s intensity was just unreal… Some people might tell you there isn’t a lot of tactics in hurling but Liam Sheedy and his backroom team had their homework done brilliantly for this one,” he maintained.
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