Breen is back to his rampaging best
The Ballina clubman showed what value he still has to this Tipperary set-up as the 26-year-old scored five points from play from midfield to inspire his side to victory.
By Shane Brophy
Michael Breen has two All-Ireland senior hurling winners medals in 2016 and 2019 but over the last couple of years he almost became the forgotten man of Tipperary hurling.
Well on Saturday against Cork he showed what value he still has to this Tipperary set-up as the 26-year-old scored five points from play from midfield to inspire his side to victory.
The Ballina clubman’s form over the last twelve months has been patchy but his impact off the bench in the loss to Limerick earlier this month indicated that he was coming back to his powerful best and the Tipperary management saw that too by thrusting him back into the starting line-up and they were rewarded by a commanding display from the midfielder.
In the first half where Tipperary, with the elements behind them, found scoring difficult, managing just nine points from 21 shots at the target. However, Michael Breen had no such issues scoring two of those points, adding three more after the break as he more than most set the template for his teammates to follow.
“It could be anyone else the next day,” Breen said of being the leading score-getter from play.
“I know it is a cliché and it genuinely could because the boys are not afraid to pop the ball out the player in the best position and it was me today.”
Breen always tends to play well against Cork where he studied to be a teacher at UCC and not only his scoring ability, but his physical presence was crucial in the heavy conditions where he had the power and pace to break the tackles when he got on the ball.
“The first half was an absolute battle,” he said.
“We knew today that we needed to perform, and we did that in the end.
“Cork had patches and we knew they were going to come as they are a quality side but we weathered the storm and got through it.
“There were sheets of rain in the first half but in the second half it eased off a bit. The first half was all about work and in the second half we got to hurl but enjoyable in the end.”
Breen added that the win was a relief for the group who were stung by the under-par performance in the Munster semi-final against Limerick.
“We felt we weren’t ourselves the last day,” he said.
“Whatever benchmark we set is against ourselves. Limerick were a quality side the last day and Cork were a quality side today and we knew if we were ourselves, we would have no worries and thankfully that was the way it was.”
With a win under their belt, Tipperary have some momentum to take into next Saturday’s quarter final against Galway but Breen isn’t getting carried away by one result.
“We are still nobodies,” he said.
“We are on step one of a journey so that’s all we can take it as.”