Tipperary management must facilitate a tactical overhaul for their players.

A new Tipperary hurling management will be sworn in by their county board in the coming days. The Tipperary players need a management which will provide them with a way of setting up and playing which can compliment their skill level.

In this piece we will highlight some areas which Tipperary have been falling down in over the last couple of years and compare this to the current All Ireland Champions.


Use of possession and set up of the team

Below we will outline the areas where Tipperary’s poor possession statistics may have came from.

1.Not having a philosophy of working the ball through the lines when the opportunity arose during a game.

2. Tipperary’s use of possession along with their set up of dropping back their wing forwards deep down the field, was contributing to a perceived lack of energy and ball winning ability in their forward line.

3. The set up and movement of the full forward line was contributing to Tipperary’s poor retention of possession.


The Stats

As we have highlighted in a previous article Tipperary hit 113 clearances were hit in past the opponent’s 65 yard line during play over the 4 championship games in 2018.

80 clearances resulted in possession being lost to the opponent.

33 clearances resulted in possession being retained by the Tipperary team.

29.20 % retention ratio.

Retention Breakdown in 2018.

V Limerick – 28 clearances made – 20 lost – 8 retained.

V Cork – 36 clearances made – 23 lost – 13 retained.

V Waterford – 27 clearances made – 19 lost – 8 retained.

V Clare – 22 clearances made – 18 lost – 4 retained.


Tipperary’s failure to work the ball through the lines

The example below shows Brian Hogan in possession of the ball with options of a pass to Willie Connors.

hogan in poss

What transpires is that Hogan does not use Connors who is free in space. He decides to clear the ball long in to the forward line.

See Graphic Below

hogan not hitting connors


The consequences of not going short to Connors are:

1. The Limerick backs inside their Tipperary player so they are going to be first to any breaking ball. The arrows show below.
2. Willie Connors has not received the pass so now he has to make up ground and pick up Cian Lynch.
3. If Limerick win back possession in their back line they now have Cian Lynch free for a pass.

See graphic below

result of hogan clearance

In the space of 8 seconds, Tipperary went from being in possession with a player free to receive a pass.

To now having lost the break to Limerick as they got a hurl to the clearance and their corner back has picked up possession.

This inefficient use of possession has put the Tipperary forwards under pressure to try win back possession. Connors is struggling to get close to Lynch before a potential pass can be played.

connors trying to get to Lynch

In this instance the Tipperary forwards foul the Limerick defender and they now have to defend a Limerick free.


Comparing this to how Quaid and Limerick use possession.

Due to Limerick dropping their centre forward (Kyle Hayes) deep down the field the whole team starting from the goalkeeper have to make a commitment to use possession intelligently and cannot just hit long ball back down in to the their forwards. They have left the Tipperary centre back free.

Graphic 1

The below graphic shows Nicky Quaid getting on to possession during general play.

He does not have any free options like Hogan had in the previous play highlighted with Tipperary. He has Byrnes on the wing but he is in close proximity to Dan McCormack.

quaid 1

Graphic 2

Shows how the ball has been played from Quaid to Byrnes. Byrnes has Dan McCormack in close proximity. Being a couple of yards off an opposition player constitutes as a free man available for a pass under the Limerick system.

Quaid’s decision to hit Byrnes explained:

1. Quaid could not launch the ball long down the pitch like Hogan as Limerick had dropped Kyle Hayes deep down the pitch.

2. Padraic Maher is free in the Tipperary half so by clearing the ball in this area, Tipperary would have a free player.

3. Because of this Byrnes in possession cannot just hit a long ball either and he must turn and get his head up to see what Limerick players are available.

quaid 2


Graphic 3

Byrnes has now played the ball to Hayes who is free inside of the Limerick 65 yard line. He now has Tom Morrissey who is unmarked on the Tipperary 65.

morrisey free


Graphic 4

Shows how Hayes has passed the ball to a free Tom Morrissey who takes a shot on goal.

moriisssey shot

The contrast in both goalkeepers decision making shows what it can do for their team.

Hogan’s failure to pick out his free man with a pass results in possession being won back by Limerick in 8 seconds and disjointing the Tipperary team.

Limerick being committed to working the ball up the field means they can take Padraic Maher out of the game through their forward movement. We can see that all of the Limerick half forward line is at one side of the pitch.

Tipperary’s use of possession is enabling the opposition defenders smother out the Tipperary forwards.


Dropping forwards deep and full forward lines set up.

The set up of the full forward line, the use of possession out of defence and not using the half forwards deep down the field as an option during play is hindering Tipperary’s ball winning ability.

There are 2 elements effecting Tipperary:

1. Tipperary dropping forwards deep but not working the ball or running it out of the defence. This means the opposition have extra numbers in their defence when the ball is cleared.

2. Full forward lines set up is not maximising the space. Their set up in 2018 was allowing opposition defenders break the ball and win possession back.


Graphic below is an example of Tipperary dropping two of their forwards deep. Brendan Maher hits a long clearance in to the Clare half of the pitch where there are 4 Tipperary forwards and 6 Clare defenders. Ball is being delivered across the field.

tipp clearance

Also Seamus Callinan and Jason Forde are making the pitch smaller for themselves due to their set up. The idea being that their starting point should be inside the rectangle at the 14 yard line.


Graphic two

Shows how the ball has now been hit towards the wing on Jason Forde. The gap between the Tipp full forward line and Clare half back line has closed. The Clare free man is getting across the pitch for any potential break.

delievery to forde


Graphic 3

Graphic below shows how Jason Forde is now underneath the ball which suits the Clare defence. As they have a spare man it means that the defender can go hard to the ball and try break the ball. Browne doesn’t have to stand off Forde as he has a buffer of the spare man to pick up any breaking ball.

clearance 3


What transpires from this clearance is that Clare win back possession and work the ball up the field which results in a Jack Browne point.

As Clare work the ball up the field for the score we can see below how there are 3 Tipperary players in the middle of the field to 1 Clare player.

Where the play is taking place, Clare had a 2 on 1 situation.

See Below

tipp 3 players in midfield


Tipperary’s use of possession and losing it so quickly after making a clearance is disjointing the whole team.

It is giving off the look that they lack energy on the pitch and are not working hard enough off the ball. But it is a mixture of :

1. Initial long clearance from defence to an outnumbered forward line.
2. Not using the extra bodies to work the ball up the pitch from defence.
3. The full forward lines set up before the clearance.


Potential Set Up from this instance

Rewinding back to the first graphic, if the full forward line setting up tight in around the small rectangle. Forde would be able to run in to Brendan Maher’s clearance rather than being caught waiting under the clearance. Running in to the clearance would not give the defender the same options as they had when waiting under the high ball.

As we seen the result of being under the clearance is suiting opposition defenders.

See below how a tight set up can create mores space.




Attempted catches by Tipperary defenders in a 50/50 aerial situation

In the Munster Championship Tipperary defenders tried to catch the ball on 66 occasions in an aerial 50/50 situation. The Premier defenders made a clean catch on 12 of these 66 attempts.

That is a 18.18 % success rate. It was noticeable Limerick’s defenders in the All Ireland Final batted the ball down to the ground in 50/50 duals rather than trying to catch possession.

If the new Tipperary management can offer clarity to the defender in the way they deal with a 50/50 possession it could improve the Tipperary defending.

If each Tipperary player knew how a fellow defender was going to contest the 50/50 aerial challenge it would mean they could focus on getting to the break and reading it.


V Limerick

Attempted catches in a 50/50 situation: 20
Clean Catch by Tipperary: 1
Clean catch by Limerick: 5
Breaks won by Tipperary off the attempted catch: 4
Breaks won by Limerick off the attempted catch: 10

Limerick goal came from an attempted catch missed.
V Cork
Attempted catches in a 50/50 situation: 11
Clean Catch by Tipperary: 2
Clean catch by Cork: 0
Breaks won by Tipperary off the attempted catch: 4
Breaks won by Cork off the attempted catch: 5

V Waterford
Attempted catches in a 50/50 situation: 25
Clean Catch by Tipperary: 7
Clean catch by Waterford: 2
Breaks won by Tipperary off the attempted catch: 11
Breaks won by Waterford off the attempted catch: 5

V Clare
Attempted catches in a 50/50 situation: 10
Clean Catch by Tipperary: 2
Clean catch by Clare: 0
Breaks won by Tipperary off the attempted catch: 4
Breaks won by Clare off the attempted catch: 4



Below we can see Seamus Kennedy trying to catch a high ball over John Conlan. He had Padraic Maher free outside him and the best option was to bat the ball down to him.

kennedy catch

What transpired was the catch was missed and it created a scramble around the goal and a goal chance for Clare. Clare ended up winning a free of this passage of play. Batting the ball down to Maher could have averted the danger.



Predictability of a Tipperary Puck Out. 

In the 2018 Munster Championship, Tipperary had a 41.96 % retention rate on their long puck out.

Due to the lack of movement, the opposition teams are able to drop back their half forwards in order to suffocate Tipperary on their puck out.

The example below is of Cork’s Luke Meade dropping deep on the Tipperary puck out.

More importantly for Tipperary Padraic Maher is static and is giving no incentive to the Cork forwards to mark him. His body language gives away that he is never going to see receive the ball.

See the Graphic Below

Hogan Puck Out

The predictability of what Tipperary do on their puck out allows the opposition to crowd the areas where the ball is landing. It also gives the defender the upper hand as they know that all they have to do is break the ball to the ground in the aerial challenge as they have team mates there to pick up the break.

See the Graphic Below

meade dropping short

This lack of movement and predictability on the puck out also meant that Tipperary were contributing to their half back line being taken out of the game.

Below we can see how Luke Meade has dropped deep and won possession off the puck out and Padraic Maher is now out of the game as he has held his position in the half back line.

Maher out of game



Forward tracking Opposition

Here are two costly examples where a lack of communication and awareness of the opposition’s movement resulted in Tipperary conceding vital scores in games.

Canning’s Last Minute Point in 2017

Below we can see Joe Canning hitting a last minute free in the All Ireland Semi Final in 2017.

In the graphic we highlight Canning hitting the free and there are 4 Tipperary forwards and 4 Galway players including Canning in this area of the pitch.

canning fre free

Graphic 2
Shows how Canning has hit the free which dropped short and was cleared by the Tipperary defence. He has not been picked up by any Tipperary forward as he made his way back up the field.

caniing 3


Example 2

Stephen O Keeffe in the lead up to Waterford’s 2nd goal in the Munster Championship 2018

Graphic 1

Graphic below show Waterford’s goalkeeper being able to run 45 metres out the field to receive a pass from a free. This clearance was in the lead up to Waterford’s second goal.

o keefee 1


Graphic 2

Shows how O’ Keeffe has now made his way to the 45 metre line and no Tipperary player has tracked his movement. It allows him to receive the ball and be able to put the ball in to the Tipperary square.

o keefee 2


Compare this to Limerick’s awareness in 2018

Graphic 1

Mannion is free for a pass and Mulcahy sees the danger and starts to run towards Mannion to try close him down.

mul 1

Graphic 2

Below shows that Mannion has received the pass off a Galway player but Mulcahy is now beside Mannion to tackle him. The Galway man is bottled up in the tackle which allows his Limerick team mates to also tackle the Galway player .

It results in a free for Limerick as Mannion was forced to over carry the ball due to the pressure he was under. This all came from Mulcahy closing down the free Galway defender.

mul 2



Tipperary’s use of their centre back

Example 1

Graphic 1

This is Tipperary’s set up on a Cork puck out. Below we can see that Tipperary’s tactic is for Ronan Maher at centre back to follow the Cork centre forward. Brendan Maher acts as the free man and will try cover the space left.

tipp cb 1

Graphic 2

The ball has been played out to a Cork corner back. Ronan Maher follows the Cork centre forward and Brendan Maher is covering the space left in behind.


Graphic 3

The graphic below shows how the ball has been played across the pitch and over Ronan Maher and Brendan Maher.

cb 3

Graphic 4

Below shows how Cork have won possession from the cross field ball. It highlights that dropping their midfielder in behind the centre back can be taken out by a cross field ball if the free midfielder is too high up the pitch and too close to the centre back.

cb 5

When trying this tactic, the spare man must be a lot deeper and near the D. If the spare person is in this area he is giving confidence to his full back line and they can attack any clearances with their forward.

The full back line knows that they can go hard to the ball, they are not worried about the space behind them if they do not win possession. If the opposition’s forward attacks the goal they have the midfielder as the spare man covering that space.


Comparing Declan Hannon’s role to Tipperary’s use of their centre back.

Graphic 1

Below we can see the play taking place in the middle of the pitch and Declan Hannon is sitting free around the 45 yard line which means Limerick have an extra defender if the ball is hit in.



Graphic 2

Graphic shows the ball having been hit in to the Limerick defence. Limerick had 3 defenders to Corks 2 forwards on the wing.

It means the Limerick backs can attack the ball hard as they have Hannon as a screen if a Cork forward wins possession.

hannon 2

Graphic 3

Hannon is now fighting for the ball and Limerick are able to force a turnover due to having 3 defenders to Cork’s 2 forwards. What transpires in this scenario is that Hannon wins possession and is able to give the ball to a Limerick player.

hannon 3


The successful counties at the moment have plans in place for different scenarios during the game. They have practiced and identified scenarios and know when it is time for a centre back to:

1. Sit deep and let the centre forward go in to his own half the field. The centre back knows his midfield player will pick up the centre forward.
2. Get his wing back to cover the centre forward and to sweep across the line or cut off space in front of the D.

These teams at the moment are reading plays and positioning themselves in areas where they can give the back line a better chance of winning back possession.

The Tipperary method of defence is very reactive. What is meant by this is that the danger may already be on the Tipp defence and then the centre back is trying to organise somebody to follow his man.

Below we can see an example of Padraic Maher instructing his midfielder to pick his man as he makes his way back in to the full back line. But the problem is the ball is already gone over him and he is too far away from the play to cut out any danger unlike Hannon’s set up

maher pointing



The Tipperary players have received unnecessary criticism off their supporters about their results and the way they play.

It is the county as a whole who needs to change the mindset of how hurling is now played.

2016 is not that long ago but their has been huge improvements in preparation and personal in many counties. It is time for a county to give it players the room to change and a management to bring that change.


Finally , Upperchurch Drombane’s Michael Ryan has been involved in 3 out Tipperary’s last 4 All Ireland wins. A man who deserves huge credit for his work as a player, selector and manager.


  1. Players also must take responsibility when on the field.Its al well and good until the same mistakes keep being made.If your half forward line cant win possession there has to be a change of tactics on puck outs and long clerances tipp really need to work on this.Tipp have among the best hurlers but possession is key you cant win games without the ball simple.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s