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Retaining minor crowns was always going to be a hard task

Thursday, 28 December 2017

RETAINING the Munster and All-Ireland Minor crowns was always going to be a hard act to follow, so said Tim Floyd in his secretary's report to the recent Tipperary County Convention.
“The 2016 All-Ireland winning management team of Liam Cahill (Manager), John Sheedy, Sean Corbett and T.J. Ryan were in charge again and Michael Bevans was retained as coach. Just three of the All Ireland winning team were still under age, Paddy Cadell, Jake Morris and Jerome Cahill but the selectors had the privilege of selecting from the Our Lady's Harty and Croke Cup wining team. In fact even greater benefit was the appearance of three Tipperary teams in the last eight of the Harty Cup which gave potential players great exposure," he began.
“Tipp's first assignment was a home fixture against Limerick in Semple Stadium on April 5. The Treaty side had eleven of the 2016 panel that lost to Tipperary in both Munster and All-Ireland finals but with these lads up to the age this year, they were a major threat. Tipp were impressive in the first half and led 2-10 to 1-8 thanks to goals from Conor McCarthy and Andrew Ormond, who struck almost as the half time whistle blew. Our good fortune continued seconds into the restart as sub Willie Barry goaled to give us an eight point lead. Limerick were quick to respond with a goal and they gradually eroded the Premier's lead as their star centre forward Paul O'Brien spearheaded the Treaty revival with a personal tally of 11 points. He pointed for Limerick from placed balls as the game entered added time but the two points from Anthony McKelvey (free) and Jake Morris plus a goal from Niall Hoctor three minutes into added time, gave Tipp a dramatic victory," said his report.
He went on to say that a relieved Tipp were now taking the direct route to the semi-final over ten weeks later on June 29 in Semple Stadium. Whilst it's a long period to keep a team ticking over, the players involved in colleges hurling would have plenty time to rest and re-energise.
“The build up to this Tipp v Cork semi-final clash was nervous as our U-21's and U-17's had exited the championship and our seniors having lost the quarter final to the Rebels. Tipp supporters were looking to this minor team to lift the hurling spirits but they faced a Cork team full of confidence and ambition.
“This Cork group had swept the boards in all the underage competitions from U-14 up and the destruction of Waterford by nineteen points in the first round of the minor in April was a clear warning of their potential. Indeed the game lived up to all expectations as it ebbed and flowed to the enjoyment of the spectators from both sides. Cork started the battle and led 0-7 to 0-4 in the first quarter but Tipp reeled them in and a Ray McCormack goal just on half time gave us a two point lead at the break. Tipp extended the lead to six points before Cork led by minor hurler of the year Brian Turnbull whittled away at the lead to draw level in the third of the four minutes of added time. In the midst of high pitch excitement, Jake Morris gave Tipp the lead but Cork replied with a Robert Downey point to send the game into extra time.
"In the first ten minutes of extra time both teams scored two points each and a goal by Tipp sub Darragh Woods looked to have sealed it but a Cork twenty one yard free was goaled by Evan Sheehan and it all ended in stalemate.
"Both County Boards agreed to a replay the following Monday night in Pairc Uí Rinn and the fixture drew an 8,000 attendance. Tipp started well leading 0-4 to 0-1 after five minutes but Cork replied with a 2-5 blitz without reply. Tipp recovered to trail by 2-11 to 0-10 at the break but Cork stretched it again to 11 points midway through the second half. Tipp bounced back again with two goals from Cathal Bourke and Kevin McCarthy but Cork saw the game out with points from their stars Turnbull and Daire Connery. Tipperary can be proud they played their part in two epic encounters and eventually took second best to an exceptional Cork team. Ironically despite these stiff tests from Tipp, the Rebels lost the All-Ireland final to Galway.
“Following the replay in Cork, Liam Cahill and his management team stepped down after four years in charge of Tipp Minor Hurling Teams. During that period they won two Munster titles and reached two All-Ireland Finals, winning one. They leave Tipperary hurling in a good place and groomed many potential and existing U-21 and senior players. We are very grateful to them for the massive commitment but their passion never ends as they have shown by moving up en block to the U-21 grade in 2018. We look forward to working with them in their new challenge."

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