Tipperary midfield Joe Higgins comes away with the ball.

McNamara lauds benefits of phased format

By Liam Hogan

Tipperary’s win over Limerick in the Munster Minor Football Championship Phase 1 final was met with great excitement as the small band of supporters greeted the players in the middle of the field after the final whistle, including manager John McNamara.

“I’m elated to be honest to see Charlie King from North Tipperary lift the Darrel Darcy Trophy which we have seen at under 17 level, a wonderful footballer (Darcy) so tragically killed and to bring it back to North Tipp.”

“It is also fitting that one of Darrel’s close friends was George Hannigan and as I said before George did a lot of work with these players when they were in the academy.”

No doubt this latest win for Tipperary was the most difficult but also their most impressive. After a promising start which saw them take a 0-2 to 0-1 lead by the tenth minute, they withdrew into a defensive format where Limerick dominated possession.

“The first ten or fifteen minutes was nip and tuck,” added the Tipp boss.

“They dominated before the black card came along. But we took our opportunities while they kicked a lot of wides in the first half.”

However, if this Tipp defence needed to be disciplined this was the time and boy did, they defend with Charlie King, Eoin O’Connell, and Jamie Bergin keeping vigil. But on so many occasions Tipp turned defence into attack and wing back Thomas Charles carried much ball out of defence.

Despite having so much possession, the Limerick following were almost tearing their hair out as Limerick’s habit of playing ball back out the field in a bid to recycle. Tipp led 0-5 to 0-2 at half time but were man short in the sin-bin.

“We knew when we walked into the dressing room at half time that we had six minutes (sinbin time) to defend after the break,” McNamara added.

“They first thing we did was kick a score. That’s the response. They got a goal soon after but as we said to them, no matter what happens they have to get level with us and take the lead. That is where the winning mentality comes from, down deep.”

With Limerick down to fourteen men after Paddy Downey was sinbinned in the 38th minute, Tipp scored 1-3 without reply. The championship quarter and it was a satisfactory period as McNamara agreed.

“What we saw last week against Clare was that they shut down Charlie King’s run from six and also curtailed Daithi Hogan. When suddenly space opened, we saw Daithi Hogan tear up the ground. I can’t imagine any player in Ireland to stop Hogan when he is in full flight.”

But amidst all the excitement it was almost forgotten that the ten-point victory over Treaty men meant a place in the Munster semi-final proper against Cork on May 19th.

“This has been a wonderful system for Tipp,” McNamara added.

“Both Tipp and Limerick had four Munster championship games so far. That is gold-dust for players at this age.

The one disappointing them made is that I feel Limerick deserve to be in the Munster semi-final as well."