Usain Bolt lost the chance to regain his World 100 metre sprinting crown last week with a false start in Daegu. If only Tipperary could have been half as quick out of the blocks on Sunday in Croker. To be fair it was Kilkenny’s relentless chasing and aggression that made it difficult for the Premier to gain a foothold in the game, but speaking of footholds, why were Tipperary players so much quicker to slip on the greasy surface than the Cats? If the last two years of Tipperary Kilkenny finals have shown anything it is that there is precious little room for error of any sort, and wearing the wrong footwear, on a day where the heavens opened pre-match in Dublin, was possibly worth a few scores to the more sure footed Kilkenny men.
No-one was more sure footed in the Kilkenny team than Tommy Walsh. He doesn’t half get under the skin of the Premier faithful, and he’ll have done little to endear himself to them after Sunday’s performance, where he asphyxiated any decent ball into the Tipperary full forward line. Lar Corbett, so effective this time last year, was reduced to a cameo role for Pa Bourke’s goal. John O’Keeffe on his All Ireland Final debut was made scapegoat for Tipperary’s defensive failings just before the half hour mark, making way for Brendan Maher. However even last year’s Young Hurler of the Year couldn’t stop the rot, as Kilkenny struck with a goal just before half time.
In the Tipperary forwards, John O’Brien and Patrick Maher were the chief instigators of most decent moves Tipperary put together, with the latter’s tenacity one of the few aspects of the game that the Tipperary crowd could cheer.
There is little to be gained on being negative however. There will have been post-mortems had in cars and bars all over Tipperary since the final whistle blew on Sunday. Looking forward, there is little reason to worry that Tipperary won’t grace Croke Park on the first Sunday in September next year. The hunger was there this year for sure, but the favourites tag weighed heavy on Tipperary’s shoulders. There’s enough determination in this side to ensure that they’ll be hungry for another crack at the Cats next year. Kilkenny were wounded last year, and were always going to be dangerous. If Tipperary can make like the Cats and convert the pain of losing into the fuel that fires them to an All Ireland victory next year, then Sunday need not be in vain. And maybe a change of boots would be in order too.