Jackie Tyrrell forced to eat 'humble pie' over 'one-trick-pony' criticism of Conor Whelan
Jackie Tyrrell said at half-time of Kilkenny's defeat of Galway that he wouldn't class Conor Whelan as one of the country's top forwards.
Today may not have been the best day to have made that point, however, with the Kinvara ace terrorising Kilkenny on his way to 1-6 from play in what Michael Duignan described as 'one of the great Leinster final displays.'
Whelan was given a new role for this provincial final, as he moved from his usual base in the full forward line out to the half forward line, where he made hay in the Jones' Road sun.
Tyrrell was eventually forced to eat humble pie as, later on in the day, he named Whelan as the man-of-the-match. The Galway forward will care little for man-of-the-match awards, however, given the sickening nature of this Leinster final loss.
A late roy-of-the-rovers style goal from Cillian Buckley condemned the Tribesmen to a painful 4-21 to 2-26 loss.
Speaking on The Sunday Game at half-time, Tyrrell said that he wouldn't have Whelan in the same bracket as Aaron Gillane, TJ Reid or Tony Kelly.
"I just feel this guy is spoken about as one of the top forwards in the country.
"But I wouldn't have him in that category - yeah he's outstandingly talented - but I wouldn't have him in the same category as an Aaron Gillane, a TJ Reid or a Tony Kelly.
"I feel at times the narrative is that the ball into Conor isn't good enough," added the James Stephens club-man.
"Today we're seeing him in a different role roaming across the half forward line, and he's picking up really good positions and breaks.
"Normally he's inside making runs, picking up ball and shooting over the bar. He's been excellent in the first half. He was extremely clever for the goal too.
A one-trick pony? @MrJackieTee says he still has question marks over Conor Whelan (1-03 in the first half), while former team-mate @JoeyCan88 says it is more to do with the supply of ball inside
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Tyrrell feels that it's taken Whelan a while to get used to the pressure since Joe Canning has retired.
"But right across the half back line, he's given them all trouble. Maybe since Joe Canning has left, maybe it's taken him time to adapt to the pressure on his shoulders to adapt to that.
"But you would ask the question, why is he in the half forward line, because Huw Lawlor has had his measure every single time they've met. He's struggled the last while.
"Too many times he's gone missing for me, for Galway, when they needed him most, but today he's definitely standing up...I just still would have question marks over him."
"1-3 isn't bad for a one trick pony," responded Joe Canning.
"To be fair, I can see where Jackie may be saying it. But go back to the Dublin game last week, he didn't know when the ball was coming in or not. Aaron Gillane knows every time."