Tipperary are through to the All-Ireland semifinal, and a date with Kilkenny or Limerick, after comfortably seeing off the Waterford challenge in Sunday’s Munster hurling final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh by a score of 1-13 to 0-15.
Declan Ryan’s team never really produced the goods as they eventually pulled away from the Deise in the second half when a goal from substitute Shane Bourke played a big role in the win.
Defender Conor O’Mahony admitted Tipp were far from their best as Waterford held them to level scores at the interval.
He told the Irish Sun, “The performance was average enough really. Everybody worked hard, but things just didn’t roll as freely as we might have hoped.
“There’s games like that where you just have to work that bit harder to get the result. Fair play to everyone, including the boys who came in, because we dug in and got over the line. We’re delighted with the result.”
O’Mahony was quick to praise supersub Bourke.
He added, “Shane is a fantastic player and has come in there again like he did in the last two games and really opened it up.
“That just goes to show this game is no longer just about the 15 guys who start it. Shane Bourke, Eoin Kelly, Seamie Callanan and Donagh Maher all made a big impression when they came on.”
Tipperary boss Declan Ryan was content with his team’s performance but realistic enough to know there is room for improvement.
“We were delighted when the guys knuckled down in second half and they finished very strongly,” he said.
“It is great to have people like Shane Bourke, Eoin Kelly and Seamie Callinan to bring in. It was a fantastic introduction for Shane today. He stuck one in the back of the net and that is what all forwards like to do.
“The guys showed a lot of character there today even though we were not at our best. They battled away to the end and we finished out the game.”
Waterford now face Cork on Sunday, July 29 in the All-Ireland quarterfinals, with manager Michael Ryan ready to get back to work after a disappointing day on Leeside.
Ryan said, “We’re very disappointed, but Tipperary had that bit of experience, took their chances and fully deserved to win it.
“I’m very proud of our own lads too though. We played some really, really good hurling but maybe didn’t have the run of the ball at times out there.”
GOAL scorer Darran O’Sullivan shrugged off injury problems when he appeared as a second half substitute and emerged as Kerry’s hero in a 2-10 to 1-12 away win to Westmeath in the All-Ireland qualifiers.
O’Sullivan proved the difference after Westmeath had led by six points with half an hour to go in Mullingar.
Kerry boss Jack O’Connor admitted, “You wouldn’t give much for our chances there 10 minutes into the second half, we went six or seven down, facing a strong wind. We had a mountain to climb.
“That was as tight as it gets now. We wouldn’t have got out of there but for Darren O’Sullivan’s goal. We obviously have a lot of room to improve.”
Dejected Westmeath boss Pat Flanagan knows well how close his team came to a big upset.
Flanagan said, “It was an opportunity missed there is no two ways about it, but it was a little bit if inexperience and fatigue as well.
“We put in a huge effort in the first half and didn’t have the legs to keep going at that pace.”
Flanagan and Westmeath were angry with some dubious refereeing decisions on the day, particularly in the build-up to O’Sullivan’s goal when a quick free from Colm Cooper proved crucial.
ANTRIM caused one of the biggest shocks of the season when they knocked a fancied Galway side out of the All-Ireland football qualifiers in Belfast on Saturday by a score of 0-11 to 0-10.
But home team captain Aodhán Gallagher said afterwards that his teammates always believed they could pull off a surprise win.
“We knew coming in we had a great chance,” Gallagher told RTE Radio after a one point win.
“Galway played really well against Roscommon, but we looked at how they played against Sligo and we thought that this was a team we could get at.”
With Tipperary next up in the qualifiers, Gallagher is looking to build on the win over Galway.
He added, “We knew from the beginning that we were very strong, and we have proved over the last few years that we are there or thereabouts.
“It’s about time we delivered on that, and hopefully we showed today that we are nearly there. Games like this are what make the GAA the thing that it is. There are 34 teams and anybody can beat anybody.”
FIRST half goals from Colm Kelly and Brendan Quigley proved decisive as Laois beat Monaghan by six points to advance to the next round of the All-Ireland qualifiers and a trip to play Leitrim.
In contrast, Monaghan boss Eamon McEneaney quit his role after the game.
“I did indicate to the county chairman that if we even had got to the Ulster final and won it I wouldn’t be going on for the next year or the year after,” said McEneaney.
“It’s a long-term job now and from what I have seen in the last 12 months I felt it would take someone else to take it on for the next three years.
“I’m just not in a position to do that. I have a family and my own lad Jim is playing senior inter-county football for Louth.”
Laois coach Justin McNulty was in happier mood and said, “It’s been a while coming, the sort of performance we have been seeking for two years now.”
MAYO boss James Horan saw little to excite the crowd in his team’s Connacht final 0-12 to 0-10 win over Sligo on Sunday, but he was happy with the result.
Horan said, “It was a dog fight and a horrible match to watch on the sideline but we showed a lot of fighting character and showed what a strong team we are with the subs that came on, they made a huge difference to us and probably swung the game and we got there.
“Back to back Connacht titles - we are happy with where we are. We are looking forward to the next three weeks and we have an amount of work to do.”
LIMERICK captain Niall Moran wants the GAA to re-examine the National Hurling League structures after his team dumped Clare out of the All-Ireland qualifiers at the weekend.
Limerick will now meet All-Ireland champions Kilkenny in the quarterfinal of this year’s competition with the Cats already the red hot favorites to advance.
Moran feels his team’s chances of competing at the highest level will be hampered by their presence in the second tier of the National League next season after the GAA decided to curtail the top flight to just six teams.
Speaking to RTE Radio after the win over Clare, he said, “We’re very, very disappointed not to be in Division 1A of the league next year.
“There’s no doubt that we’re good enough for it. There’s no doubt that Offaly and Wexford are good enough for it. There’s no doubt that Clare are good enough for it.
“And I would still urge the GAA to have a look at it because unless we’re playing those teams, and those teams are competing against each other, the thing will not develop, and that’s vital.”
SEANIE Johnston finally made his Kildare debut as the Lilywhites hammered his native Cavan in the All-Ireland qualifiers on Sunday, albeit as a 10 minutes substitute.
Johnston scored the final point of the game from a free as Kildare progressed to the next round, with manager Kieran McGeeney adamant the former Cavan forward deserved his chance.
McGeeney said, “He was playing well in training. It’s like everybody else, I can’t treat him any differently. If he’s playing well he’s entitled to a start.
“I would have liked to have put all this to bed four or five months ago but that’s, like, he was playing well at training this week. He deserved a chance so he got it.”
Cavan boss Terry Hyland clearly doesn’t see Johnston turning Kildare into All-Ireland winners judging by his post-match comments.
“Good luck to Seanie, he’s a good footballer but he’s not an all-star and good luck to Kildare, they are progressing, but they haven’t won any All-Irelands yet,” he said.
WEXFORD boss Jason Ryan was left ‘devastated’ by his team’s narrow defeat to Tipperary in the All-Ireland qualifiers on Saturday – just a fortnight after running Dublin close in the Leinster semifinal.
Ryan admitted, “We’re devastated we are out of the championship. It is absolutely devastating.
“We had 17 missed scoring chances in the game so there you go. We had enough opportunities in the game, just like we did against Dublin, but we just did not take them and that’s that.”