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'He’s a much happier man today' - no hat-trick for Callanan but victory is all that matters

Michael Breen hailed Tipperary’s collective spirit after they sent Galway packing.

TWELVE MONTHS ON and not much has changed.

Another All-Ireland semi-final between Tipperary and Galway of the highest quality, one where only a point separated the sides once again after a pulsating 70 minutes. And just like last year, the 2016 edition saw both counties take part in a high-stakes shootout.

Tipperary, scorers of 2-19, ran up the same total score in 2015 (3-16). The big difference this time around was they were far less reliant on Seamus Callanan, who bagged 0-9 but failed to trouble Colm Callanan’s goals from play.

Seamus Callanan with Gearoid McInerney and Daithi Burke Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

It was players like the McGrath brothers, Michael Breen and Bubbles O’Dwyer who picked up the scoring slack as Tipperary shook off that nasty reputation this team has for losing tight games.

Just like John McGrath, Breen is hurtling towards his first Allstar in his debut season in the starting lineup. He whipped up three points from play on Sunday, ghosting in with those trademark late runs from midfield.

“I was just saying there last year Seamie [Callanan] had the game of his life and it was open for him inside,” said a relieved Breen after the final whistle.

“This year it was so tight back there, he just broke it down, he worked hard and did his part for the team. He’s a much happier man today and as a collective we are just delighted that we worked hard and got on the right side of the result.

“I suppose 12 months ago it was a different dressing room, this year we are just delighted to get through it. Such a tough game, loads of running, loads of work.

“You only had seconds on the ball and seconds to make a decision and we are just delighted to come out on the right side of it this year.”

It’s been six years since the Premier last came out on the right side of a one-point game in Croke Park – that a quarter-final win over the Tribesmen en route to lifting Liam.

Johnny Coen with Michael Breen Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Too often games involving Tipperary have gone down to the wire and they’ve left the field with their heads hanging. Not time around. Not this team.

“It has been said that we die down in tight games, but not this year” continued Breen. “We’ve developed that mental toughness, we built on it throughout the league and the championship and I think we are just coming right.

“We don’t under-estimate the challenge that lies ahead. Kilkenny are a mighty team and it will take more than what we performed today to beat them.

“From the mental side of things it will toughen us up a small bit, it was just back to basics hurling; in your face hurling. Seconds on the ball and seconds to make a decision so it will bring us on and give us confidence going into training in Tuesday night and we look forward to that.

“It was just down to tough hurling, back to basics hurling. Things that great Tipp teams have done in previous years when we were winning All-Irelands; we just try to build in those traits into our team and its working for us and hopefully we can keep driving it on.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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