Liam Sheedy was relieved following his team’s victory over Laois in Croke Park last Sunday, while adding that his team will have to play a lot better if they are to be a match for Leinster champions Wexford, also insisting that Wexford will be hot favourites for that game.
Sheedy’s team stuttered and staggered past fourteen man Laois with a performance that had a mixture of good and bad.
”Job done,” he quipped. “Very glad to be back in the All-Ireland semi final. A tricky fixture. A lot of people saying all week that you just had to come up. That’s a dangerous place to be,” said Sheedy.
The Tipp manager was impressed by the way Laois went about their business and praised Eddie Brennan on the job he done with his team.
”Eddie (Brennan) had his team playing really really well. Laois had a great spirit about them. I saw it last Sunday. I witnessed it myself in Portlaoise. I saw it here again today. They gave us lots of it. We got eight points clear in the first half. It looked as if we were going to push on but they got it back to four points at half time,” said the Tipp manager.
”They asked questions of us at various stages of the game. We have managed to cross the line and get into the last four. That was our ambition. We had some good patches of play and picked off some really good scores and lovely strikes in the second half I felt. Again that level of performance would not be enough to take us any further in the competition. We are
under no illusions about that. For us it’s a job done and we are glad to be back into an All-Ireland semi final,” said Sheedy.
Tipp entered the game with many presuming his team would win easily?
”We set our own standards in terms of performance but we would not be really happy with where we got to today. The reality is the talk all week is that Laois are not in the championship. That is difficult. Make no mistake about it. I know Eddie and as I said I’ve seen Laois and the way they played last Sunday down in Portlaoise was admirable. There is a great spirit about them, a great energy and are very good to work the ball out of defence. They are well coached under him and Niall Corcoran.
”They brought a lot to that pitch there today. But for us we played second fiddle in a lot of sectors in that game and in the one to one battles and there was parts of that play that we had no answer to. At the same time we did rack up a good score in 2-25 and we could have had another green flag or two in that first half,” declared Liam Sheedy.
Sheedy agreed that there’s an ongoing problem for Tipperary is the concession of frees and last Sunday was one of those days which kept Laois in the game?
”If you look at the trends in the Munster championship it’s a similar trend. In fairness to Mark Kavanagh he was unerring from frees. He is a really good striker of the ball and that is an aspect of our game in which we are not going to survive against top level competition if we concede that many frees. We have a few areas to work on but we have a lot good areas too.”
”I thought Mark Kehoe showed well when he was brought down for two frees. We know what Mark can do. Getting the opportunity to put twenty lads out in Croke Park can only be a positive way going forward.”
Noel McGrath scored two points from midfield admitting he was delighted to get a day in Croke Park, adding it’s where every player wants to be as it’s a different different place. He said that Tipp had huge respect for Laois despite all the talk of an easy game.
”Everywhere you go there are people who want to talk about the match. I know a good few of the (Laois) players. They are not too far over the border especially the players in Rathdowney. They are all good hurling men and come from good hurling parishes and they are all able to play. We have played them in challenge games with the club over the years and so we prepared as best we could for today,” said McGrath.
Playing in Croke Park as opposed to playing in Munster venues, was it different?
”It was very warm out on the pitch. The weather over the last two or three weeks have been very good. We have trained in that type of heat and weather. But championship is totally different.
”Croke Park is different than anywhere else in the country. It’s just a different different place. You want to express yourself in Croke Park. In the heat of championship in Croke Park is always hot and heavy. Laois brought aggression and a good tempo to the early part of the game. We had to get ourselves up for it. Look we are after coming out in an All-Ireland quarter final with a win and we are looking forward to the semi final,” said Noel.
Meanwhile Laois manager Eddie Brennan was both disappointed and yet delighted with the way his team played despite losing the game.
”It’s a disappointment. I would not be anyway critical of the players whatsoever but today was a very steep learning curve for them in that when you play quality in a place like Croke Park all those little mistakes you might have got away with at Joe MacDonagh level tend to be punished very very hard.
”I would have to say I am thrilled with the players. I think they could be forgiven for caving in and maybe coming to half time it looked as if we were in for a bit of a clipping but they stayed at it and that’s been the way all year. What we have asked them as a management was to see a job right out to the end no matter what’s happening. To a man today they did and when their legs and their arms were screaming out there’s nothing left and so from that side of things I’m hugely thrilled with them,” said Brennan.