National Hurling League Division 1A:Dublin 2-20; Tipperary 0-14
In yesterday's game, played at Parnell Park, Dublin,Tipperary's inept display was reminiscent of the worst period — in the late '70's and early '80's — of their hurling recession between 1971 and 1987. The truth of the matter is that the recession in Tipperary hurling never ended; it simply improved from a dire situation as exemplified by the euphoria with which we all greeted the first round championship victory over Clare in 1983.
Being happy with winning one All-Ireland senior championship every decade is very depressing. In the 1950's and 1960's — the glory years of Tipperary hurling — titles were won by first time ground hurling, great spirit and physicality. It was a time when the leading Tipperary club teams could take on the top clubs in any other county and beat them. The changes to the club championship system allowed teams of inferior quality to continue playing senior year after year in a competition which guaranteed them 4 or 5 games even if they lost each one. The idea of relegation was anathema to those involved at club and board level. Not surprisingly, the competitive element and standard deteriorated. Tipperary teams, for a long number of years, have been unable to hit the ball on the ground and they are lacking the defensive qualities to properly defend the goal — and I am not talking here about foul tactics.
Unfortunately, hurling has become a handling game — especially over the past ten or more years. At times it is like rugby played with hurleys. Tipperary are finding it hard to compete with teams that always favoured the handling game because they lack the craft and physicality.