Monday 30 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
Morgan Treacy/INPHO Seamie Callanan gave a masterclass today.
# Opinion
Brendan Cummins - Tipp's perfection, Kilkenny's home comforts and the luck of the draw
The42′s hurling columnist gives his verdict on the weekend’s hurling action.

WHAT WAS GREAT to see from Tipperary today was the fight. For the last number of years Tipperary haven’t brought that to some Munster championship games but today in Limerick they decided they were going to work, especially in the forwards.

When you’ve that kind of platform then it gives the scorers the ability to come through and that’s why you saw the quality come out.

When then hurling shines through it shows on the scoreboard.

The forwards deserve huge credit. Not just Seamie Callanan for his 2-5 or John O’Dwyer (0-7) or Jason Forde (1-3) but all six. Brendan Maher, for example, he didn’t do a huge amount facing toward goal but he was instrumental in all the good work done around the middle of the field.

His play allowed Shane McGrath and James Woodlock to sit back a little and the whole system just worked.

The system was simple enough. When the forwards won the ball their use of possession was really good. It’s one thing telling guys to run into space but it’s another to distribute the ball accurately to exploit it. But Tipperary executed their plan perfectly and that’s why Seamus Hickey and Richie McCarthy — two of the best backs in the game — were taken out of it in Limerick.

As much as Seamie’s movement was top class, the passes to him still had to be accurate and they were today, devastatingly so. The same with Bubbles, he’d tell you himself how important Tipp’s distribution was for his scores.


Seamus Callanan Cathal Noonan / INPHO Seamie put everything into today's game. Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

Speaking of Seamie, he was unmarkable at times and, I suppose, you’d feel some sympathy for Richie McCarthy today. The first goal was composure personified. Tipperary were three points down and scoreless at that stage and I was beginning to wonder where we were going in the game but the first chance he got, to feint off his right to his left and stick it.

Remember, at that stage McCarthy had won the first three contested balls between the two but, from that moment on, there was only one winner of that battle. And that’s the beauty of Seamie Callanan as he’s matured as a player. Everything that happens in the past is gone, he’s totally living in the present, and he shows you he is by sticking it in the net when he gets a sniff.

Of course, a lot of the talk will be about the forwards but numbers one through seven played a huge role today and Darren Gleeson was very important. The use of the ball from the puck outs was extremely good and even in the second half when they went long and lost a couple, they quickly got their heads together and changed the tactic and took a foothold again in the game.

All over, I suppose you could call it a perfect display from Tipperary and, while there’s a long, long way to go, I didn’t see anything elsewhere to make me change my mind that they’ll win the All-Ireland this year.

As for Limerick, they didn’t become a bad team overnight so I don’t think they can be too downbeat about the result. It’s not the end of the world for them and they play a Leinster team now. I suppose, like everyone else in the qualifiers, they’ll hope to avoid Dublin in Parnell Park but they’re still going to have a huge say in the outcome of this year’s championship.

Last year they took care of Tipp and came very close to beating Kilkenny in an All-Ireland semi-final. Today was just one of those times when you get beaten by a better team on the day.

I’ve had another look at that controversial Graeme Mulcahy non-point and for me it was a score but I don’t suppose you’ll hear too many people from Limerick arguing over whether or not it was 16-point loss or a 15-point loss. Even though it came at a time when the game was much closer, I don’t think Tipperary were going to be denied today.

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Home comforts

The Final score James Crombie / INPHO Kilkenny were never losing at home today. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

In the early throw-in, anyone who has played Kilkenny in Nowlan Park will know they probably had a 10-point start before the game even got under way. With all due respect to Wexford, I wouldn’t expect any team to go into Kilkenny and come out with a win at this time of the year.

I think Wexford will need to regroup from the manner of the defeat though and remember they’re the team that knocked out the defending champions last year. Liam Dunne will have to sort out the Jack Guiney situation sooner rather than later and I think that will rejuvenate the team if he comes back in for the qualifiers.

It’s hard to say too much about what’s going on because we’re operating in an information vacuum and only Liam Dunne and Jack Guiney know everything that’s gone on there. One thing’s for sure though, and of this I’m certain, Liam Dunne has never had anything other than the best interests of Wexford hurling at heart in any decision he’s taken.


There’ll be a lot of teams whose championship is decided tomorrow when they listen to the radio and hear the draw for the qualifiers. Everyone will be hoping to avoid Wexford at home or Dublin at home and you’d fear for any side having to make those trips.

I remember myself listening to the radio on a Monday and if we drew Dublin or Kilkenny thinking about throwing it over my head. It really does bring home just how tough this time of year is. There are no easy games from here on in.

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