By Liam Hogan
Tipperary’s victory over Limerick in the Munster Minor Football Championship Stage 1 Final was met with great enthusiasm as the small group of supporters greeted the players in midfield after the final whistle , including manager John McNamara.
“To be honest, I’m delighted to see North Tipperary’s Charlie King lift the Darrel Darcy trophy that we saw at Under-17 level, a wonderful footballer (Darcy) so tragically killed and bring it back to North Tipp.”
“It’s also only fitting that one of Darrel’s close friends is George Hannigan and, as I said before, George worked a lot with those players when they were at the academy.”
No doubt this last victory for Tipperary was the most difficult but also the most impressive. After a promising start which saw them take a 0-2 to 0-1 lead in the tenth minute, they retired in a defensive format where Limerick dominated possession.
“The first ten or fifteen minutes were nip and tuck,” the Tipp boss added.
“They dominated before the black card arrived. But we took our chances as they threw a lot of wide in the first half.
However, if that Tipp defense needed discipline, now was the time and boy did it, they defend with Charlie King, Eoin O’Connell and Jamie Bergin watching. But on many occasions, Tipp turned defense into attack and wing back Thomas Charles carried a lot of the ball out of defence.
Despite having so much possession, Limerick supporters were nearly tearing their hair out as Limerick used to play ball on the pitch in an effort to recycle. Tipp was leading 0-5 to 0-2 at halftime but was missing a man in the sin-bin.
“We knew when we walked into the locker room at half-time that we had six minutes (sinbin time) to defend after the break,” McNamara added.
“The first thing we did was hit a score. This is the answer. They scored a goal soon after, but as we told them, whatever happens, they have to get on our level and take the lead. That’s where the winning mentality comes from, deep down.
With Limerick down to fourteen men after Paddy Downey was booked in the 38th minute, Tipp scored 1-3 unanswered. The Championship quarter and it was a satisfying time as McNamara agreed.
“What we saw last week against Clare was that they stopped Charlie King’s run from six and also cut Daithi Hogan. When suddenly space opened up, we saw Daithi Hogan ripping through the ground. I can’t imagine a player in Ireland being able to stop Hogan while he’s in the air.
But amid all the excitement, it was almost forgotten that the ten-point victory over the treaty men meant a place in Munster’s semi-final proper against Cork on May 19.
“It’s been a wonderful system for Tipp,” McNamara added.
“Tipp and Limerick have played four Munster League games so far. That’s golden dust for players of this age.
What disappointed them was that I think Limerick deserves to be in the Munster semi-finals as well.”