Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Tipp's last stand: What have the Premier left other than pride against Clare?

Tipperary are in danger of sliding off the cliff if they don’t give followers something to get behind.

WHERE WOULD YOU PITCH the mood of the Tipperary hurling nation right now?

Well, consider this anecdote, 100% true as it is.

By Tuesday, 36 hours after Cork mowed Tipp down in Semple Stadium, a native of Tipp was doing an early morning workout in an Ulster gym.

One hurling fan made a sensitive enquiry about the mood in Tipp and was instantly cut off, informed that they were in no mood for talking through their grief.

Undeterred our hurling friend went again, this time with a more conspiratorial I-know-your-pain-and-I’m-here-for-it tone, mentioning that it happened against ‘that shower’ on ‘that pitch’, only to be met with the curt response: “Could you not just go somewhere else?”


If the shockwaves travelled all the way up across borders, it was felt most keenly closer to home.

The Nenagh Guardian’s ‘Tippcast’ podcast had their GAA correspondent Shane Brophy on raking through the ashes of the defeat with Shane ‘Saint’ Stapleton.

If you were on the lookout for misery, you could get more here than you would ever hope for.

“I was back in Lorrha last night for a training session… it’s a kind of state of shock,” said Brophy.

“We’ve slipped from where we were for 15 years. I would always have been a glass half-full merchant in terms of, ‘Well look, we have the players, it’s just if we can get a proper system and structure in place’.

“I think there’s finally a realisation that… ok, we shouldn’t be losing by 18 points, but we have fallen off the pace in Munster considerably. The five stages of grief, I think we are in the first one at the moment.’”

“We’re the whipping boys again,” his podcast partner Stapleton chimed in with.

Whipping boys. They really were that under Colm Bonner. Liam Cahill was appointed with the express wish that he and Mikey Bevans would put a rod of steel in them.

liam-cahill-dejected-after-the-game Liam Cahill. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

This season though, Tipp have been early pioneers of quiet-quitting.

On the first day out, they were off to Limerick. The 15-point defeat was puzzling. No real fight. No adventure. No nothing, in front of very few fans clad in the famous blue and gold.

A draw against Waterford was the baseline requirement given manager Liam Cahill’s previous posting in that county and knowledge of their players. But then came Cork, and 18 points in it at the end.

Last year brought one win over Clare in the opening round before draws against Cork and Limerick, and a two-point loss to Galway to end the season.

A year earlier, 2022 saw a straight sweep of defeats under Colm Bonner, out of the championship altogether before the hay was won, with a dozen point defeat to Cork ringing in their ears.

We could travel further back in time. What would be the point. Nothing but pessimism abounds within the boundaries right now.

It’s been that kind of campaign for Tipperary: initial promise that hit a pothole in Portlaoise.

It would be crazy to insist that their backfiring performance in the league semi-final defeat to Clare set a tone for their championship. And yet, how do you argue with that assertion, either?

The Tipperary public can be disgusted all they want too, but they haven’t been out for their team in 2024.

It wasn’t something they ignored on ‘Tippcast,’ either. The conversation went around the houses to examine coaching structures, strength and conditioning work, the make-up of management teams, the possibility of establishing a development squad. All that root-and-branch chat that accompanies any disastrous summer season.

But when Brophy became really exasperated was when the subject of a dwindling support in recent times came up. Brophy cited that recent minor final against Offaly, where he estimated it was three or four Offaly to every one Tipp fan.

“Like, are we a proper hurling county anymore? It’s unreal. Maybe we’re not the diehard county we think we are, because we can’t get people to go in big numbers, even when we have a really good team,” he pleaded.

It comes back to the vanilla performances. Any support will wait for signs that there is something to get behind. Right now, Tipp have the backing of their hardcore. The bandwagon only attaches itself off the back of a few consecutive wins. That’s the deal.

Last Sunday, just eight frees were conceded against Cork. On a good day, any manager would be delighted with that, as it usually means the tackling and jockeying was disciplined, and that few scoreable frees were handed over.

This meant something very different. Tipperary simply couldn’t get near their Cork opponents to even tackle or foul them.

Other incidents came and went but under closer examination seemed incredible. Cathal Barrett’s hamstring injury seemed to go unheeded and he conceded two points to Brian Hayes before he was replaced.

This final round could spell the end of the careers of Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher and Noel McGrath.

noel-mcgrath Noel McGrath. Evan Treacy / INPHO Evan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

Bonner turns 35 in October, McGrath is 34 in December. They might have expected more from the final years of their county careers.

The least they could hope for is one last big day.

“Which is why next Sunday is absolutely huge,” asked Brophy.

“If there’s more of the same next Sunday, how do this group of players and management go forward?

“Like, it’s absolutely huge. There has to be a response in some way. How do the management go on with the same group of players? How do the players trust the same group of management?

“So that’s why I think it’s absolutely huge, what’s coming next Sunday for Tipp.”

The podcast was well over an hour long. He got all that off his chest in the first three minutes. It’s all that was needed to be said.

It’s over to Liam Cahill and the players now. How do they sign off on a rotten 2024?

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