Steven O'Brien has retained his place on the Tipperary team. Photo: Eamonn McGee
The Tipperary senior hurling and football teams have been named ahead of Sunday’s Allianz National League double header at Semple Stadium, Thurles - Liam Kearns’ footballers will face Longford at 1pm while at 3pm the All-Ireland champions will face defending league champions Clare.
The Tipperary senior hurling team for Sunday’s encounter with Clare is as follows: Darragh Mooney (Éire Óg Annacarty-Donohill), Joe O'Dwyer (Killenaule), James Barry (Upperchurch-Drombane), Donagh Maher (Burgess), Séamus Kennedy (St Mary’s Clonmel), Ronan Maher (Thurles Sarsfields), Tomás Hamill (Moyne-Templetuohy), Brendan Maher (Borris-Ileigh), Barry Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg), Steven O'Brien (Ballina), Niall O'Meara (Kilruane MacDonagh’s), Noel McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), John O'Dwyer (Killenaule), John McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), Aidan McCormack (Thurles Sarsfields).
Clare have also named their starting fifteen ahead of Sunday’s key clash: Patrick Kelly, Oisín O'Brien, Cian Dillon, Seadna Morey, Brendan Bugler, Conor Cleary, Jamie Shanahan, David Fitzgerald, David Reidy, Aaron Cunningham, Cathal Malone, John Conlon, Podge Collins, Aaron Shanagher and Cathal McInerney.
Meanwhile the Tipperary senior football team to play Longford has been announced by manager Liam Kearns: Evan Comerford (Kilsheelan-Kilcash), Alan Campbell (Moyle Rovers), Paddy Codd (Killenaule), Willie Connors (Kiladangan), Emmett Moloney (Drom & Inch), Robbie Kiely (Carbery Rangers), Jimmy Feehan (Killenaule), Liam Casey (Cahir), Jack Kennedy (Clonmel Commercials), Josh Keane (Golden-Kilfeacle), Kevin O'Halloran (Portroe), Brian Fox (Éire Óg Annacarty-Donohill, captain), Conor Sweeney (Ballyporeen), Michael Quinlivan (Clonmel Commercials) & Philip Austin (Borrisokane).
Michael Ryan’s Tipperary hurlers will play their first competitive game at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Sunday since so famously winning the county’s 27th All-Ireland title in September. Tipperary remain unbeaten since losing to Clare in the 2016 Allianz National Hurling League quarter-final, but the Banner represent a real threat to the Premier County’s undefeated run.
Eleven months ago Clare, who are the defending league champions, beat Tipperary 2-13 to 0-18 in Cusack Park, Ennis while the sides have met seven times in the league during the past ten years. Tipperary have won four, drawn one and lost two of those encounters. During the past ten years Clare have played just 42 games in the top division so the Banner will be eager to maintain their league status and test themselves against the All-Ireland champions.
Tipperary face into this contest nursing a 100% league record having already beaten Dublin (1-24 to 1-8) and Waterford (1-18 to 0-15) away from home so Sunday’s encounter represents blue and gold supporters’ chance to welcome the All-Ireland champions home to Thurles for the first competitive game since the 2016 championship was brought to such a glorious conclusion.
Clare, however, are well capable of spoiling the party on Sunday. Although the Banner lost their opening league game to Cork (1-11 to 0-21) Clare then beat Kilkenny emphatically (2-19 to 0-12).
Although Conor McGrath is out injured Clare joint-managers Dónal Moloney and Gerry O'Connor can call on Aaron Shanagher who is in terrific and fired home 1-4 against Kilkenny; watch out too for Aaron Cunningham and Shane O’Donnell on the inside line with Cathal McInerney and John Conlon also in flying form.
Clare have opted to employ a progressive shape to their side this season. Cian Dillon is hurling at full-back and Oisín O’Brien is an unheralded man marker of real note in the corner while half-backs Brendan Bugler, Conor Cleary and David Fitzgerald are protected by the energetic Jamie Shanahan, David Reidy and Podge Collins.
Following an impressive six-point win (1-16 to 1-10) over Laois at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise on Saturday night Tipperary find themselves second in division three of the Allianz National Football League with promotion now within striking distance.
Tipperary trail an undefeated Louth team by two points, but every team in the division is still in with a shout of forcing their way into a play-off spot. Now, as they say, is the time to drive it on. And, Liam Kearns’ men cannot afford to take anything for granted. Indeed, Longford, Tipp’s forthcoming opponents, beat Tipperary during the 2016 league campaign (1-17 to 1-11) and also registered championship wins over Down and Monaghan during the 2016 All-Ireland qualifiers before frightening the life out of Cork.
Following the encounter with Longford Tipperary travel to Offaly on Sunday, March 19th while the hurlers will host Kilkenny on Saturday, March 11th at Semple Stadium, Thurles.
ALLIANZ NATIONAL LEAGUE FIXTURES
Sunday, March 5th
Allianz National Football
League Division Three
Tipperary v Longford
in Semple Stadium, Thurles @ 1pm
Allianz National Hurling
League Division 1A
Tipperary v Clare
in Semple Stadium, Thurles @ 3pm