Eoin Kelly: It was one of the greatest ever Tipp performances at Croker

Where to start with that one!


Sunday’s win over Wexford was one of the greatest Tipperary performances of all time and one of the finest that I’ve ever witnessed in Croke Park.

Everything that was thrown at them was confronted – whether it was refereeing decisions, being down to 14 men or whatever Wexford came with.

You have to give Wexford credit as well, they turned it into a Titanic struggle.

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Wexford ran Tipperary off the park in the early stages around the middle of the field. But, they probably ran themselves into the ground and ended up fatigued with 10 minutes to go.

Once they went down to 14 men, the key thing for Tipp was that they didn’t start driving the ball down the field. They stayed composed and found their men.

They matched the warrior spirit with calm hurling and that was evident with Brian Hogan’s free that Jake Morris latched onto for the point to seal it. He got advice from Liam Sheedy to stick it in the corner and it worked out. Morris was one of a few Tipperary subs that came on to make massive contributions and maybe that wasn’t the case in previous games.

The bench contributed four points and Tipperary won by two, so that was a huge impact from the subs.

In the cold light of day, Wexford’s subs didn’t make the same contribution as Tipp’s did.

That’s what got Tipp over the line, especially after they had to confront a lot of disappointing refereeing decisions.

Disallowed drama

Tipperary amazingly had three disallowed goals on the day and I’d really like to know what the referee blew for when Michael Breen’s first one was wiped off.

He didn’t make a signal to explain his decision from where I watched in the stadium.

I’m led to believe it was for a chop on Matthew O’Hanlon, but looking down from the stand I didn’t see where there was a free. O’Hanlon never had control of the sliotar. If it was for the push in the back, that would be a very soft free.

You’d really like a quicker decision for John McGrath’s disallowed goal, even if it was correct.

You’d like a fourth official, or whoever it may be to be a lot faster onto that if the ball has gone over the bar. That would, at least, help out the referee a bit.

The refs seem to be looking for support and they are not getting it.

It took way too long for that decision to come. Maybe a watch that buzzes when the scoring plain is crossed similar to the Premier League when a goal is over the line might be the way to go.

The whole situation surrounded the cancelling of Jake Morris’ goal was very confusing, to say the least. Even the aftermath of it was baffling.

First, the ref’s hands went out for a penalty and then it was changed to a free-in.

If Tipp had been beaten after that decision, they would have been savage over it.

They’d worked so hard to get themselves back into the match and then the goal would have pushed them three ahead in injury time.

Everyone wants to see the advantage rule used by referees, but that would have been a huge talking point had Tipp lost the game. The goal should have been given.

John McGrath fortunate to be free for the All-Ireland

John McGrath can have no complaints with his red card and I don’t think he would give out about it either. It was just a small bit of frustration really.

He had picked up a yellow in the first half and in those physical games, you really have to watch yourself if you are on a caution.

He’ll be breathing a sigh of relief that it wasn’t a straight red card and that he can play in the final now.

John McGrath will have been a relieved man that Tipp won, even if he’s not a dirty player. He’s lucky it wasn’t a straight red card though.

Tipp came up trumps when it mattered

Davy Fitzgerald basically answered the ‘what happened to Wexford’ question after the match. To paraphrase him, he said that Wexford probably thought they had the game won because they had an extra man on the field.

Subconsciously, that was probably the reason their work-rate dropped off a bit. It turned into more of a hurling game than a tactical game after the red card and that seemed to suit Tipperary. They found more space, as funny as that sounds.

The introduction of Tipp’s subs brought some fresh legs to proceedings and they ran at Wexford to create their scoring opportunities.

Tipp got scores easier with 14 men than they did with 15.

Wexford were like a tsunami in the first half with the way they ran off the ball, but they found it hard to sustain that for the last 10 minutes. The big key was Tipp didn’t go goal-hunting at five points down, in the way that Kilkenny did when they were behind in the Leinster final.

Tipperary kept clipping scores and they worked their way back into the game.

Let’s talk about Sean Cleere

It was really sad watching the Sunday Game have to focus on the performance of the referees in both semi-finals over the weekend and maybe at this level the time has come to introduce a second ref.

Or maybe get the linesmen and fourth officials involved more.

I felt sorry for Sean Cleere afterwards, especially when you scroll through social media and he’s getting it in the neck.

He’ll probably tell you himself he didn’t have a good day.

It was unfortunate for him that the game was so frantic. In the modern game, I’m calling for these refs to get more help. It’s the key to consistency.

Cleere was appointed to this game a week ago, so it would have been very on unfair to withdraw him on Saturday night after Kilkenny won.

It would have been unfair on Wexford and Tipperary too, because they would have done their analysis on him.

But, Kilkenny winning the night before put Cleere in a very tough spot.

It gave supporters on both sides more ammunition to throw at him. There should have been a bit more forward planning from the GAA when he was appointed in the first place.

Bring on the Cats!

I won’t say I’m glad it’s Kilkenny in the final because they’ve beaten Cork in the quarters and in the semis they took out Limerick, two serious teams.

TJ Reid, Walter Walsh, Adrian Mullen and Colin Fennelly would be starting forwards for any team in the country. They worked their socks off on Saturday and that’s what they do most days.

If Brian Cody can pull off this All-Ireland victory, it would be one of his biggest triumphs.

We know all about Kilkenny in Tipperary, and if both teams bring the work-rate they produced at the weekend, we are going to have one unbelievable final.

The refereeing appointment for the final will be a huge call, we all want to see the game flow.

We have the two most in-form teams meeting in the final.

It’s always said if you can come with momentum at the right time, then you have a chance. But, both teams have that momentum!

Can Tipp win it? Yes, they can.

This is going to be one hell of a battle though. It won’t be a runaway victory for either side that’s for sure.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they gave us a second day out!

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What do you think?