The Tipperary under-21 team to face Cork at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Wednesday night (throw-in 7.30pm) in the Bord Gais Energy Munster semi-final shows one change from the team which defeated Limerick at the quarter-final stage - Nenagh Éire Óg’s Tommy Heffernan replaces Dan McCormack (Borris-Ileigh) in the half-forward line.
The team is: Darragh Mooney (Éire Óg Annacarty), Cathal Barrett (Holycross-Ballycahill), Michael Breen (Ballina), Andrew Ryan (Toomevara), Joe O’Dwyer (Killenaule), Tomás Hamill (Killea), Seamus Kennedy (St. Mary’s Clonmel), Justin Cahill (Kilruane MacDonagh’s), Brian Stapleton (Templederry Kenyons), Tommy Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg), Jason Forde (Silvermines), Niall O’Meara (Kilruane MacDonagh’s, captain), Aidan McCormack (Thurles Sarsfields), Bill Walsh (Carrick Swan), Liam McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney).
Following the departure of the senior and the minors from the scene the focus shifts very sharply to Ken Hogan’s men, but the Lorrha coach is adamant that the attention is welcome and will not distract his charges from the task in hand.
“We have a very good bunch of players and they are conscious that we are now flying the hurling flag for Tipperary alongside the intermediates. That suits us fine too and we are looking forward to the game with Cork and the chance to maybe bring a smile back to the faces of Tipperary supporters in the wake of the last few weeks,” Ken told the Tipperary Star this week.
Unlike the game against Limerick, Tipperary have a relatively clean bill of health going into this game and they have also had a chance to freshen things up somewhat and regroup. They have added county minors Ronan Maher (Thurles Sarsfields) and Colin O’Riordan (JK Bracken’s) to the squad, but against that they have lost Borris-Ileigh’s Dan McCormack who has gone to the USA - a big loss considering the kind of form he was showing in the earlier part of the summer.
Tipperary have played a number of games in advance of this clash with Cork including a challenge against Kilkenny in Gortnahoe - Kilkenny are now out of the championship. They also played the Tipp seniors and intermediates in a bid to look at players, assess where they are at and make their minds up about team selection.
“Cork knocked these lads out of the minor championship and that would always be at the back of your mind - you want to get your own back and our lads are determined to do that. There have been some titanic battles between us over the last few seasons in this grade and home advantage has meant nothing. I can see this game being another great clash and with a knockout system in place - and I would be an advocate of it - you have to win your games, simple as that. Knockout gives the games a real cut and you can be sure that both Tipp and Cork will be going all out to win this game because there is a lot at stake,” Ken Hogan said.
Throw-in at Semple Stadium tonight is at 7.30pm and Tipp folks are being encouraged to get along and cheer on the team.