Sports

Tipp Ease To League Semi Final As Ryan Confirms Staying In 1B Was Top Priority

Thursday, 6 April 2017

TIPPERARY are through to meet Wexford in the Allianz National Hurling League semi final after they defeated Offaly 4-28 to 3-13 on Sunday in Tullamore.

It was a comfortable victory for the Tipp men who showed no signs of losing the game once Seamus Callanan registered their first goal on 18 minutes. Offaly needed to keep out the goals for as long as they could but they had no answer to the speed and the skill that Tipp showed in attack.

Speaking after the game, Offaly manager Kevin Ryan was happy with how his charges kept going right to the end with Shane Dooley hitting two late goals to bring the final deficit back to 18 points.

"It's all we could ask, we were trying to break the game down into different sectors. Obviously Tipp took the foot off the pedal a little bit but at the same time, they could as easily have been beating us by as much in the last ten minutes as earlier. Absolutely they kept going and we're pleased with that. We know where it's at - seven or eight weeks ago after playing Galway here, the performance was absolutely desperate.

"They've improved a lot since then. As I said to someone earlier there, our eye was always on that fourth spot. It's not our fault and it nearly sounds like it is, that the fourth in 1B gets into the quarter-final. That's the way the system is, it's probably not right but from the start of the year, it was always going to be Kerry, Laois or ourselves in that fourth spot."

Offaly trailed 1-14 to 0-7 at the break but further goals for Tipp in the last 17 minutes from Steven O'Brien, Paul Flynn and Callanan again had them coasting. As mentioned above, Offaly continued to try pick off a few scores with Dooley in the right place at the right time for a late haul of 2-2 to add to his previous six points.

For Kevin Ryan, it was all about avoiding a relegation scenario with a quarter final just an added bonus, through no fault of their own.

"Even after the Galway game we were looking at trying to keep results down and we were always looking at that game with Kerry. That's the way it worked out. It's no surprise to us but at the same time, if there's a system fault, there's a system fault.

"I'd be happy enough that we did absolutely keep going there. You definitely don't want a 30-point beating, or even the beating we got, but we're realistic to know that we're down around that area, tenth or 12th in the country, you're playing the best team in the country. It was a good experience and hopefully we'll gain something from it."

Tipp were savaging the breaks and the dirty balls and that was one area Ryan really saw the difference in the two teams.

"They'll certainly learn themselves in relation to even just keeping going. You can see the difference in the pace of it - we won very few breaks today. They were strong enough in a lot of the rucks and came away with some ball but the breaking ball, Tipp were just way sharper onto it. Once we can see that in a positive way and work towards it. That's where we want to be at the end of the day, whether it takes two, three or five years to get there, that's where you want to be and strive to be. We'll take what's from it and look at things that they're doing on the pitch that we're not doing and try over the next few months or a year or so, to get there."

Offaly's next competitive game will be in June when they take on one of the qualifiers from the round robin group. Meanwhile the club championships will swing back into action on Easter Saturday with Birr and Kinnitty opening proceedings with the other five games down for Easter Sunday.

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