Eoin Kelly: Tipperary are better off without the favourite’s tag

The ref was right not to send off John O’Dwyer and Ronan Maher too.


Sunday was a disappointing day for Tipperary, especially when you consider that we played five games in Munster – won four and lost one – while Limerick played five and lost two of them.

But the three games that Limerick won were the all-important ones. Tipperary players will be down about the fact that it’s a Munster trophy and a set of medals they didn’t get their hands on.

Limerick will be ecstatic though because a Munster title was what they’ve been craving and John Kiely has been open about that fact that they want to win as much as they can, while they can.

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You must remember a lot of that Limerick panel didn’t have a Munster medal until last Sunday.

People were well aware beforehand, it was always going to be a tough ask for Tipperary to go into Limerick’s backyard and take them on in a Munster final.

It turned out that way, and Liam Sheedy will be disappointed with the fact that Tipp lacked energy in comparison to their previous four performances in Munster.

Favourite’s tag is gone

To take the positives though, Tipperary’s Munster campaign has been very strong. They’re into the last six in the All-Ireland now too.

Limerick’s emphatic win on Sunday will also take a lot of pressure off Tipperary. Because of the manner of the defeat, it has elevated Limerick to frontrunners to retain their title and takes the favourites tag off Tipperary.

The hype around Tipperary’s All-Ireland campaign was certainly put to bed anyway.

Liam Sheedy will analyse it all, and he’ll probably see that Limerick’s work ethic was much higher on the day.

That’s something Tipperary would have prided themselves on leading into the final. Limerick just seemed to have more in the tank. They won a huge amount of turnovers in the middle third and forced Tipp to spill a lot of balls they normally wouldn’t.

The favourites tag is now firmly with Limerick, and rightly so!

They are looking at back-to-back All-Irelands now, something that only Kilkenny and Cork have done since the turn of this century. That would be a phenomenal feat for Limerick, and who is going to stop them?

If they keep bringing the level of work rate and aggression they brought to the Munster, then they are going to be hard to stop on any day.

Ronan and John deserved to stay on

To be honest, I’d have to disagree with Brian Gavin’s quotes in the Irish Examiner on both the John O’Dwyer and Ronan Maher incidents and I’m not just saying that as a Tipperary man.

For O’Dwyer’s one, the ball is in mid-air when he was challenging with Diarmaid Byrnes and I’ve no doubt in my mind that Bubbles was trying to pull on the ball. It was just hanging there to be struck really. There’s a decent height difference between the two – with Byrnes being the taller – and when you pull that way you can always catch the bigger man by mistake.

As for Ronan’s one, he definitely got the ball first ahead of Peter Casey.

I wouldn’t be bothered with the follow-through because he was going for the ball and there was no malice there. I really don’t think we should be talking about red cards at all.

Think about, was it really that kind of a game?

I even remarked to the lads on the bus coming home that I thought Paud O’Dwyer had a great game as a referee and that’s after being beaten by 12 points.

Time to draw on the spirit of 2010

After last year, Tipperary’s first goal was to get out of Munster and get into the last six.

They are a long way ahead of where Clare and Galway are at in 2019, they are gone now, and they don’t have a chance at winning the All-Ireland Championship.

Tipperary need to reset and refocus now, they need to get back to worrying about themselves.

They’ve played five games in Munster and only one of them was below par. They must take the positives from the days they performed really well.

Liam Sheedy has experienced this before too, when we lost to Cork in 2010. He can draw on that experience and he’ll know what he needs to do to re-energise the team. It’s a new Championship now!

No such thing as an easy road to an All-Ireland

I would say Tipperary are on the easier side of the draw. After losing a provincial final the next team you play comes in on the back of a big win in the preliminary quarter-finals. They are also on a little bit of a high after that.

Watch the Laois v Dublin game next weekend, that won’t be a runaway victory for Dublin by any means.

However, I’d still expect Dublin to come through and then you have Tipp and Dublin facing off.

Don’t forget Dublin beat Tipp in the National League this year, so they’ll have a bit of confidence from that. This is a dangerous road for any side, but if you can get over that All-Ireland quarter-final, you are back in the semis with huge momentum.

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What do you think?