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Saturday 4 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
# Comment
Tipperary send out a warning, lack of ambition in Connacht final — Sunday GAA talking points
Tipperary demolished Waterford while Galway and Roscommon will do battle all over again.

1. Tipp send out a warning

NOBODY SAW THIS coming. We were told to get used to the Waterford and Clare way of thinking, with the packed midfields, short hand passing and sweepers systems.

But Tipperary failed to read the script. In fact, they completely ripped up the script and tore Derek McGrath’s carefully-constructed system into shreds. This was a most Kilkenny-like performance from a team who are quite clearly the biggest challengers to Brian Cody’s crown.

Niall O’Meara Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

Tipperary blitzed Waterford after half-time as John McGrath and Seamus Callanan set the Gaelic Grounds on fire, posting 4-13 between them. The Premier County attacked in droves and had a simple attacking game plan. Going as direct as they did made perfect sense in those conditions.

In his speech after lifting the cup, Tipperary captain Brendan Maher mentioned the All-Ireland semi-final a couple of times. They’ll enjoy tonight, but Michael Ryan’s men have their eyes on a bigger goal. They want Liam MacCarthy back.

The hurling championship looks a little bit more clear cut after today’s result, as the two best teams in hurling (Kilkenny and Tipperary in case you need reminding) will avoid one another until a potential All-Ireland final. What a prospect that is.

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Dan Shanahan dejected Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

2. Where do Waterford go from here?

By the end of the game, Derek McGrath had Maurice Shanahan, Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh, Austin Gleeson, Noel Connors and Pauric Mahony sitting behind him in the dugout. That says it all.

Tipperary lead by two points at half-time, 1-7 to 0-8, but by the 48th minute they found themselves 13 points clear. Three goals in seven devastating minutes ended this game as a contest. There was no way back for the Deise.

Waterford hit 10 wides in the first-half, having been harried and hassled by Tipperary all over the field. Waterford’s body language looked wrong after the restart, they ran down cul de sacs and appeared heavy footed. There was no spark up front and they constantly over played the ball.

Five talismen were withdrawn, but it was a day where McGrath could have taken off anybody.

Waterford now move into last chance territory in the All-Ireland quarter-final, where they’ll face a Wexford side buoyed by victory over Cork. Responding to this defeat is the biggest challenge this group of players have faced.

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Paul Conroy and Thomas Flynn with Niall Daly and Cathal Compton James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

3. Lack of ambition from both teams in Connacht final

On a dreadful, rain soaked afternoon in Pearse Stadium Galway and Roscommon played out a game that mimicked the conditions.

Both teams looked like they set out not to lose the game rather than to win it in a thoroughly defensive affair. Both sides gave up the opposition kick outs and operated with only one dedicated forward each.

While Roscommon attempted to press up on Galway when they came out with the ball, the Tribesmen dropped bodies back inside their own 45. Galway edged the tactical battle, although they were helped by Roscommon’s ponderous build-up, allowing the home side to filter bodies back.

When Galway won back possession, they knitted together some pacey counter-attacks. Damien Comer provided a decent outlet in attack with Danny Cummins and Shane Walsh breaking forward to take some decent scores.

Walsh had the chance to shut the door on a Roscommon comeback but he signposted an attempted point only to be blocked down by John McManus. Roscommon’s big game experience from the spring served them well as they held their nerve for Cathal Cregg and Donie Smith (free) to clinch a draw.

But overall Roscommon’s attack failed to function, highlighted by the fact that four of their starting forwards were called ashore to the bench before the day was out.

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Taking on Galway’s mass defence and the strong Atlantic gale, Roscommon’s forward unit were too stationary and they had far too many bodies ahead of the ball. Playing laterally back and forth in front of Galway’s mass defence played into their hands.

The experiment of employing Cathal Crompton, who started at midfield, at full-forward didn’t work, largely because he was starved of possession.

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Donie Smith kicks the final point of the game to send the Connacht Final to a replay Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

4. Will Galway or Roscommon be happier?

This is an interesting one. Galway looked like they had Roscommon’s system cracked for the majority of the second-half but they tripped up on the home straight.

Still, they defended well for long spells and looked to have the edge in attack. Kevin Walsh’s young side should benefit from the added experience of playing a Connacht final. They let Roscommon off the hook, but once Walsh can pick his team up for the replay they have every chance of finishing the task on the second time of asking.

They looked that bit slicker up front and controlled possession for long spells. Galway’s own mistakes let Roscommon back into the game, especially the disastrous late free they conceded, allowing Smith to send the game to a replay.

Roscommon will be thrilled to get out of jail after spending most of the second-half on the ropes. They looked tired and devoid of ideas but showed remarkable character to force a draw.

The away side only played well for two ten minute spells, one in each half, but they’ll have far more room to improve than their counterparts. Roscommon know they can play so much better. The possible return of Diarmuid Murtagh next week would add to their hand.

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