Tipperary’s senior hurlers and footballers are facing a red letter weekend when Galway come to town for the All-Ireland senior hurling qualifier tie, and Longford make the journey south for the All-Ireland senior football equivalent.
Semple Stadium will be the venue for the attractive double bill with the God’s having smiled on Tipperary in both codes to secure the home venue - an undoubted advantage as the season unfolds before our eyes.
The footballers, buoyed by their strong showing against Cork in Pairc Ui Chaoimh in the Munster semi-final are pleased to have secured a home tie against Jack Sheedy’s Longford - a side which defeated Offaly, lost to Wexford and then took the significant scalp of Derry in the last round. This was a major win for Longford and while it may have caught pundits off guard somewhat, Longford’s graph has been steadily on the rise, so much so, that they travelled to Derry with a lot of confidence. They will make the journey to Semple Stadium with an equal amount of confidence and Peter Creedon’s men are well aware of the kind of challenge that faces them when the ball in thrown in on Saturday.
Tipperary trained in Semple Stadium on Sunday morning and have made every effort to get over the disappointment of having lost to Cork in the Munster semi-final - a game they could have, and probably should have, won. While the performance was certainly one to be lauded, the management and players were in no mood to accepts plaudits - a moral victory was not on their horizon. Victory was.
So, Tipperary have been rehabilitating the mind in a bid to be right for the qualifiers and while they only found out on Monday morning that Longford would be arriving in Thurles, the minds have been focused pretty quickly on the task which will unfold on Saturday evening.
Speaking of rehabilitating the minds, the Tipperary hurlers have had a good body of work to undertake following their defeat to Limerick in the Munster semi-final, and the subsequent fallout. A lot has been said and written about the players with very sharp criticism stinging but at the same time helping to tunnel the vision and channel the energies into the visit of Galway.
Tipperary’s confidence might be brittle at the present time, but a win on Saturday evening against the Tribesmen would be a major boost and would see the season back on track, despite the setbacks. The management and squad will be looking for a swell of home support to act as the sixteenth man as they hope to return to the kind of performance which saw them almost capture the Allianz NHL silverware.
Galway, of course, have rumbled on two successive weekends against Kilkenny in the Leinster championship but failed to deliver the knowout blow on either occasion. They must now embark upon a third high octane game in a fortnight - a big ask of any team, and the fact that they have to travel to Semple Stadium will not help their cause either.
But, Anthony Cunningham will be impressing upon his charges, the need to put the Kilkenny defeat behind them and to remember instead how they unlocked Tipperary’s defensive unit in Salthill back on St Patrick’s weekend. That was a game which resulted in much soul searching in Tipperary and the Galway faithful will be hoping that Tipperary will find their men as difficult to handle on Saturday, as they did on that fateful Sunday by by the seaside.
Saturday really is a most important evening for Tipperary GAA and the results will determine the mood of the county for the rest of the summer. Victory in either game will inject confidence; defeat though will probably bring the curtain down on a few careers. See inside for more.