LIAM SHEEDY HAILED his Tipperary players for their stirring display in turning today’s All-Ireland hurling semi-final in their favour and booking a spot in next month’s decider.
A five-point deficit during the second half morphed into a three-point victory by the final whistle as Sheedy felt his side produced superb character.
“It’s a difficult place to turn it around, when you are five points down and a man down and, look, there has always been questions about our character and could they really bring it.
“Did they have the pace? Did they have the energy and resolve? For the day that’s in it, they answered that emphatically.
“This is a wonderful bunch. This is a bunch that has given me everything since November and they have been challenged. I’m just fortunate to have put a really solid team around them that has asked questions of them every night and the reason you did it is for days like today. A man down and five points down, it really was backs to the wall.
“I sit here today a really proud man, I’m just thrilled for this group. That comes from the inner resolve that each of those guys has. What a contest. What a weekend of hurling it has been. What a spectacle again. I’m probably on an emotional high again here now because you go through all those emotions on the sideline.
In an encounter filled with drama and talking points, Tipperary saw three goals disallowed by referee Sean Cleere. The last one by Jake Morris looked to have comfortably sealed Tipperary’s progression.
“A goal is a massive thing as you get on to the end of the championship,” remarked Sheedy.
“Jake’s one, I don’t know. I just said to Shane on the sideline, ‘ls there not five seconds? Do you not get five seconds here to do something?’ I felt Jake had got the ball within two or three.
“I felt that was probably the match-winning score. I thought that when we were coming out with momentum the free was given but when they were coming in with momentum the free was being given in.
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“So, look, Sean Cleere is a fine referee. It’s a difficult, difficult situation to find yourself in out there because the game is just frantic. Again, it probably tells you a bit more about our group and our team that they managed to answer back and found the resolve to go at it again because they are setbacks.”
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The input of the Tipperary bench proved invaluable as the second half unfolded. Ger Browne, Willie Connors, Mark Kehoe and Jake Morris all got their names on the scoresheet to swing the game in the direction of the Munster outfit.
“We asked the eleven to really represent the group well if they got on the pitch today. It wasn’t just the scores either. It was some of the balls they turned over. When it looked like Wexford would get on the attack they would get a hook or a block in and turn over the ball. We had some huge turnovers in that last ten minutes and a turnover was as good as a score in those instances.
“Jake Morris put the ball in the back of the net and the way he got that point down in the corner, he is a guy who is clearly building his confidence all the time and on the back of his performance last Tuesday night (in the Munster U20 final). It’s been a really good week for Tipperary.”
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