Question-mark over Tipp’s killer instinct – Keating

Question-mark over Tipp’s killer instinct – Keating

Former Tipperary player and manager Michael ‘Babs’ Keating at the official opening of the GAA Museum ‘Imreoir to Bainisteoir’ exhibition launch at the GAA Museum in Croke Park. Photo: MATT BROWNE/SPORTSFILE1
Former Tipperary player and manager Michael ‘Babs’ Keating at the official opening of the GAA Museum ‘Imreoir to Bainisteoir’ exhibition launch at the GAA Museum in Croke Park. Photo: MATT BROWNE/SPORTSFILE

Colm Keys and Donnchadh Boyle

Former Tipperary manager Michael ‘Babs’ Keating has questioned whether the All-Ireland champions really have the “killer instinct” to leave their mark on the game.

Following on from current manager Michael Ryan’s contention, in the wake of their 16-point League final defeat, that they weren’t Kilkenny and were ‘mere mortals’, Keating, who guided Tipp to All-Ireland titles in 1989 and ’91, hopes they can develop an even more ruthless streak.

Critical of previous groups in the wake of their 2010 All-Ireland triumph, Keating believes they are “one of the most skilful in the business”.

“What they did in Croke Park last year, and the drawn final in 2014…they’re exceptional hurlers. But have they the right mix?” he asked.

“I have an old saying, there is a recipe for success that takes in five words with ‘s’. Speed and stamina – they have that. Style and skill – they have that. And that all leads to scores. But that is no good without the killer instinct. That’s the one question mark.”

Scale

Keating feels the scale of the defeat to Galway leaves Ryan with a fresh challenge.

“It can happen if you’re not committed,” he said. “A number of the present team were there in 2010. Why didn’t they emerge in 2011, 2012 or 2013?

“The same thing happened in the replay in 2014. That is Mick Ryan’s problem, can he instil that in them?

“Galway have sent a message out to every other county, that if you want to beat Tipp now, ‘we’ve shown you the road’.”

Ahead of Sunday’s Munster quarter-final with old rivals Cork, Keating’s respect for the Rebel County, even in times of trouble, remains deep.

“I wouldn’t like to be in the dressing-room with Diarmuid O’Sullivan and Pat Hartnett (Cork selectors),” he said. “They were two serious backs and anybody wearing a Cork jersey that day who doesn’t do what the Galway players did won’t be forgiven by those two.

“It’s their second year. They can be forgiven what they did with Cork last year.

“Cork are the team – you don’t ever discount any of the traditional teams. There is always a sting,” he warned.

“The same as there was a sting in us back in ’87 when we beat Cork in Killarney. Cork were 4/1 on, we were 3/1 or 4/1 outsiders. Yet we were Tipperary in a Munster final.

“Cork are coming to Thurles and they are Cork in a Munster Championship. Cork were rarely a League team. They were always a Championship team. You discount Cork at your peril.”

As Tipp manager, Keating was embroiled in plenty of controversies with Cork, most notably his “donkeys don’t win derbies” remark prior to the 1990 Munster final.

Read more – Brendan Cummins: Tipp’s bid for immortality will fail if they fall into trap of old and take eye off the ball

But, speaking at the launch of a GAA museum exhibition that features All-Ireland winners in hurling and football as players and managers, he feels the way Cork seized on his remarks was motivation the following year.

“I got sh*t over the donkeys thing. It was interpreted. Cork used it to their advantage, I have no doubt.

“Having said that, I think it turned against Cork the following year. Our players stayed loyal to me, committed themselves that ‘whatever we’ll do this year, we’ll dethrone Cork’. And they did. They felt there was an injustice done to me by the Cork people.”

Meanwhile, Tipp captain Padraic Maher says the Galway defeat can’t be brushed under the carpet and needs an obvious response on Sunday.

“We were just very flat on the day. It was very disappointing,” he lamented.

“The first national title up for grabs…

“That was my fourth League final and I’ve lost them all. And it makes it twice as bad that we didn’t even put in any kind of a performance. No player could put their hand up and say ‘I did my bit’.

“That’s very disappointing and it’s something to keep us in tune for Championship.”

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