By Noel Dundon
Tipperary Intermediate hurlers will face Cork - All-Ireland champions two years ago - in the Munster championship curtain raiser on Sunday afternoon with a much fancied team.
The Tipp lads will be drawn from players over 21 years of age and under 27 in what is seen as a development squad of sorts for the senior panel. The hope is that by bringing in the players, working them hard in an inter county set-up and giving them vital championship experience, the players can progress to make it to the senior grade with Tipperary.
Coach Michael Ferncombe (Holycross Ballycahill) has been very pleased with the progress of the side which is Managed by Mick Ryan (Fethard) who was corner back on the last Tipp team to win the All-Ireland title back in 2000. Also on the management team is Eamon O’Dwyer (Arravale Rvs) and Sean O’Meara (Shannon Rvs) and they have presided over a number of top class challenge games over the course of the last few months by way of preparation for the big game.
“We played the Tipp seniors and u-21’s, Portumna club team, Kilkenny u-21’s, Wexford seniors and held a number of trials in order to bring our panel from 75 down to 25. The training has gone really well and the players are up for the challenge on Sunday, eventhough we know well that Cork are a fine team - they won the All-Ireland two years ago and all of those players are available again now,” Michael Ferncombe told The Tipperary Star.
Joey McLoughney (Toomevara) captains the side and there is quite a bit of excitement about the quality of this Tipp squad. Michael is encouraging supporters to come to Semple Stadium early on Sunday in order to catch a look at the intermediates.
“It would be great to have a bit of support in Semple Stadium because these lads have worked very hard and are excited about the prospects of facing Cork,” Michael said.
The squad is: Matthew Ryan (Templederry), James Logue (Ballingarry), George Hannigan (Shannon Rovers), Kevin Maher (Lorrha), Eoin Hogan (Killruane), Niall Teehan (Gortnahoe), Tommy Stapleton (Templederry), Joey McLoughney (Captain, Toomevara), Johnny Ryan (Drom and Inch), Ronan Sherlock (Silvermines), Paudie O’Dwyer (Annacarthy), Ray McLoughney (Kilraune), Dara Hickey (Boherlahan), Willie O’Dwyer (Carrick Davins), Evan Sweeney (Loughmore Castleiney), Martin Dunne (Moyle Rovers), Ritchie Ruth (Thurles Sarsfield), Philip Austin (Borrisokane), Liam Dwan (Holycross Ballycahill), Timmy Dalton (Arravale Rovers), Philip Ivors (Ballingarry), Alan Byrnes (Shannon Rovers), Brian Fox (Annacarthy), Christy Coughlan (Templederry) and Damien O’Brien (Burgess).