By Brian McDonnell
TIPPERARY intermediate hurling manager Michael Ryan is eagerly looking forward to a Munster final against Clare on Wednesday, July 25th at MacDonagh Park, Nenagh (throw-in 7.30pm). And, despite facing the defending Munster and All-Ireland champions Michael Ryan says that his Tipperary team will give their all against a fancied Clare outfit.
“We can guarantee you one thing anyway: that we will be giving it one hundred and ten per cent there on the night and we won’t be going down without a fight that’s for sure,” a determined Michael Ryan said.
“The response that I have been getting from the boys has been great,” Michael Ryan explained as he reflected on the pride his players have shown in the Tipperary jersey.
“It is a great honour any day to put on a Tipperary jersey and the response we are getting from the players has been absolutely brilliant. They are honoured to wear the Tipperary jersey and I think you will see that in the players on Wednesday week. There is a great spirit and a great atmosphere in the camp. You can’t beat a bit of success. There’s a great competition for places as well, everyone wants to make the squad and make the team. And, that’s good too.”
Michael Ryan (Fethard) is joined on the management team by coach Michael Ferncombe (Holycross-Ballycahill) and selectors Seán O’Meara (Shannon Rovers) and Eamonn O’Dwyer (Arravale Rovers).
“Winning championship games,” Michael Ryan added, “you just can’t beat it. It’s been a great year for Tipperary hurling and Tipperary in general. It’s a good time to be involved with hurling in Tipperary. It doesn’t always turn out like this. We’re very fortunate to have such talent around and I think everyone should appreciate it while it’s there.”
Tipperary won the toss for the venue and elected to play the game at MacDonagh Park, Nenagh - a venue that should attract a bumper crowd.
“It’s brilliant to have the game in Nenagh and I would urge the crowd to come out,” Michael Ryan insisted.
“I think they will be treated to a very good game of hurling. In our squad there is real quality there and with what Clare are coming with as well you are going to have a very high standard of hurling.
“It will be a game well worth coming to see. Hopefully people will give us that support and hopefully that will get us over the line.”
Injury has ruled out Aherlow’s Cathal Dillon (thumb), Borris-Ileigh’s David O’Connor is struggling to get over a knee complaint and while Evan Sweeney (Loughmore-Castleiney) is now fully fit manager Michael Ryan is hoping his players can come through a whole raft of club games unscathed.
“There are an awful lot of club games going on the weekend of the 20th and 21st (of July) and we have the Mid semi-final replay between Drom and Loughmore, the West semi-finals are on and there is a round of county fixtures going on as well. So, I could have ten or 12 players involved that weekend which is a big worry for me,” Michael Ryan said.
“In fairness the club scene has to go ahead too. It is a worry and hopefully we don’t pick up any injuries. That would be the main concern.”
After a handy 2-20 to 1-11 win over Limerick in the quarter-finals Tipperary were in sensational form at Páirc Uí Chaoimh when handing the Rebels a 3-18 to 2-16 defeat in the semi-finals. A whirlwind start set Tipperary on their way. Indeed, Tipp led 2-4 to 0-2 after just 13 minutes and 3-10 to 0-6 at the break.
“We have hurled well,” admitted Michael Ryan.
“In the first half in particular against Cork we did really play high-intensity hurling and we got a great work rate out of the boys. They put Cork away very early and I suppose they had the game nearly won at half-time. Cork were always going to come back at us, but we had done enough. We probably caused a few problems for ourselves in that we lost a small bit of concentration which did lead to a few handy scores. They got a few handy goals and we probably took the wrong options for a few scores ourselves when we could have put the game well beyond their reach..
“We are hoping now that we will be able to play that way for nearly sixty minutes the next day. That would be the aim and we will need to because Clare have around ten of their under-21 panel on the intermediate team so they are going to be a very youthful and fit Clare team. We know what Clare will bring and they will bring passion to it too so we’re expecting a real battle.”
Clare were equally impressive in their semi-final win over Waterford (1-19 to 3-9) - the Banner led 0-8 to no-score after just 17 minutes and by 12 points with fifty minutes played.
“We have seen them play a challenge game, but it is hard to judge on a challenge game,” Ryan said.
“We saw them playing Cork before we played them and they were very impressive. Against Waterford they had seven or eight points up before Waterford even registered a score. Waterford only scored a few handy goals in the finish that brought them into the game. Clare underage hurling is on the rise now, you have the Clare under-21s winning the All-Ireland a few years ago and a very good Clare minor team since 2010 and they were very unlucky not to win an All-Ireland. They have a lot of those players available so you can rest assured that we are in for a good test.”
Tipperary panel: James Logue (Ballingarry), Gerry Walsh (Carrick Swans), Kevin O’Gorman (Thurles Sarsfields), Christy Coughlan (Templederry Kenyons), Joe Gallagher (Kildangan), Eddie Connolly (Loughmore-Castleiney, captain), Ronan Sherlock (Silvermines), Michael Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg), Paudie White (Clonoulty-Rossmore), Seán Carey (Moyle Rovers), Damien O’Brien (Burgess), Johnny Ryan (Drom & Inch), Kieran Morris (Moycarkey-Borris), Evan Sweeney (Loughmore-Castleiney), David Butler (Drom & Inch), Richie Ruth (Thurles Sarsfields), Niall Teehan (Gortnahoe-Glengoole), John Sheedy (Portroe), David O’Connor (Borris-Ileigh), Paudie O’Dwyer (Éire Óg Annacarty), Ciarán Haugh (Lorrha), James Barry (Upperchurch-Drombane), Michael Gleeson (Thurles Sarsfields), Mark O’Meara (Kilruane MacDonagh’s), Tossy Lowry (Holycross-Ballycahill), Liam Dwan (Holycross-Ballycahill), Cathal Dillon (Aherlow), Orrie Quirke (Silvermines), Bobby Bergin (Clonakenny) & Michael Butler (Drom & Inch).