‘Who doesn’t love this?’ – Tipp and Limerick not disappointed with draw after ‘proper Munster championship hurling’
Tipperary captain, Noel McGrath, ruled out any suggestion of disappointment in the Premier camp after having to claim a late draw with a Limerick team they dominated for long spells in Thurles.
The All-Ireland champions led for a grand total of less than five minutes of an epic contest before 37,459 in Semple Stadium, yet it took a 76th minute John McGrath Killinan-end free for Tipp to avoid losing a fifth consecutive championship game to Limerick for the first time.
“As a player you just want matches and we love this like” said McGrath, now knowing that a win against Waterford next weekend will secure Tipp a place in the Munster final against Clare.
“Who doesn’t love this? It’s a throwback to the mid-2000s when you had packed stadiums and Munster Championship matches with everything on the line. This is the exact same now so I don’t think anyone will be complaining. We’ll dust ourselves down tonight and tomorrow and we’ll go again.”
For Limerick, there remains a real element of jeopardy now to their final round robin game against Cork next weekend, though manager – John Kiely – believes the All-Ireland champions have been making gradual improvements.
“We’ll probably feel like we should have got the win, given the number of scoring chances we had versus the number of scoring chances we converted” he said. “We definitely had more than 40-odd scoring chances and didn’t convert enough of them. But at the same time I’m really happy with the performance, I thought the performance was a really incremental improvement again on the last day, which was another incremental improvement on the previous day.
“So our trajectory is in the right direction, we’ve had three really good performances on an improving scale. In the first half Tipp were efficient, when they got chances they took them. I felt Jake Morris was exceptional in the first half and caused us all sorts of difficulties.
“But once we got on top there in that sector, we would have been happy with three points of a deficit at half time given the breeze.”
“It was one of those days that it could have gone away from us and it didn’t. It didn’t because of the resolve and character that the group has and that they showed when it was in the melting pot in that final quarter.
“I have to take my hat off to them for that, they were absolutely brilliant. They just kept doing the right thing and kept doing what we wanted them to do. They kept their heads and gave themselves that chance, so I’m really happy with that.”
Kiely described next weekend’s game with Cork now as “proper Munster championship stuff now”, admitting “It’ll be a tough game, it’s going to be all on the table. Isn’t that why we’re all involved, to go after those types of games and to have those types of games?
“Listen, we would dearly like to stay in the championship for as long as we possibly can. Our opportunity to stay in it comes next Sunday so we’ll get our pieces right during the week and we’ll try and be the best team we can be and hopefully improve yet again from this week to next week like we have been doing over the last number of games and hope that will be enough to get us where we want to be.”
Tipp selector, Declan Laffan, described the 0-25 to 0-25 draw as “real proper Munster championship hurling. It felt a bit like the old days – big crowd, tremendous atmosphere, wonderful occasion to be involved in.”
Asked about Liam Cahill’s late red card on the line, he reflected impassively “It’s an emotional game. I’m no different myself when I’m on the line. It’s part of the game. Sometimes we go over the top but we don’t mean to. It’s just the sport.
“Look, it would be great to get to a Munster final. Obviously, first year with this group of players and management. It’s a big challenge. We’re not going to take anything for granted.
“Having said that, I’d like to thank the Tipp public today. They really came out and supported us. We’d asked them to come again next week in big numbers and really drive on this team. I think they deserve the support.”