Darren Gleeson will start in goal for Tipperary.
Bookmakers have named Tipperary as 100-to-one on favourites to beat Offaly in Sunday’s Allianz National Hurling League quarter-final. And, manager Michael Ryan has named a strong starting team to face the Faithful at O'Connor Park, Tullamore on Sunday, April 2nd, at 4pm - the contest will form the second part of a double header (at 2pm Offaly will host Laois in a critical National Football League division three contest).
The Tipperary team to face Offaly on Sunday in O’Connor Park, Tullamore is: Darren Gleeson (Portroe), John Meagher (Loughmore-Castleiney), James Barry (Upperchurch-Drombane), Michael Cahill (Thurles Sarsfields), Séamus Kennedy (St Mary’s Clonmel), Ronan Maher (Thurles Sarsfields), Pádraic Maher (Thurles Sarsfields, captain), Michael Breen (Ballina), Jason Forde (Silvermines), Dan McCormack (Borris-Ileigh), Niall O’Meara (Kilruane MacDonagh’s), Noel McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), John O'Dwyer (Killenaule), Séamus Callanan (Drom & Inch), John McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney).
Irrespective of the defeat suffered at the hands of the Rebels on Sunday last (3-16 to 0-26) at Páirc Uí Rinn, Cork Tipperary progressed to the quarter-finals of the Allianz National Hurling League with a fair degree of comfort. And, their prize is a last eight clash with Offaly with the winner of the Kilkenny-Wexford contest awaiting the victor in the last four.
The remaining quarter-finals see Cork take on Limerick and Galway host Waterford.
The league semi-finals are scheduled to take place on the week-ending Sunday, April 16th and the final on the week-ending Sunday, April 23rd.
And, do not forget that all of quarter-finals must end on the day (in the case of a draw twenty minutes of extra-time will be played, then another ten minutes if required before spectators could be treated to a free taking competition to decide a winner).
There is no doubting that Shane Dooley is the star of the Offaly team, but it is also hard to ignore the fact that Kevin Ryan’s team are not in the best of form - The Faithful lost their opening four games in the league to Galway (1-12 to 6-23), Laois (1-20 to 1-26), Limerick (3-15 to 1-25) and Wexford (0-15 to 1-17) before, finally, beating Kerry (1-21 to 2-16) to book their place in the last eight.
The sides last encountered one another in a 2015 league quarter-final at O’Connor Park, Tullamore when Tipperary won with six points to spare (1-16 to 0-13). Playing with the wind in a bad-tempered affair Tipperary led 1-14 to 0-4 at the break - Séamus Callanan helped himself to 1-6 before the Drom & Inch man was controversially sent off. Indeed, Tipperary concluded the game with thirteen players when Cathal Barrett was dismissed following a second bookable offence.
An intriguing sub plot to the knock-out stage of the league is the actual make-up of the Tipperary senior hurling panel - manager Michael Ryan is expected to cut his panel once the league campaign comes to a conclusion.
So far Tipperary have used thirty different players during the league. This week’s game and how each individual guy performs and behaves in training is of huge significance, especially for fringe members of the panel who are eager to realise their dream of featuring in the blue and gold of Tipperary come championship time.
WHO HAS PLAYED FOR TIPPERARY IN THE 2017 LEAGUE
James Barry (Upperchurch-Drombane)
Kieran Bergin (Killenaule)
Michael Breen (Ballina)
Michael Cahill (Thurles Sarsfields)
Séamus Callanan (Drom & Inch)
Seán Curran (Mullinahone)
Paul Flynn (Kiladangan)
Jason Forde (Silvermines)
Darren Gleeson (Portroe)
Tomás Hamill (Moyne-Templetuohy)
Barry Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg)
Tommy Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg)
Séamus Kennedy (St Mary’s Clonmel)
Brendan Maher (Borris-Ileigh)
Donagh Maher (Burgess)
Pádraic Maher (Thurles Sarsfields, captain)
Ronan Maher (Thurles Sarsfields)
Aidan McCormack (Thurles Sarsfields)
Dan McCormack (Borris-Ileigh)
John McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney)
Noel McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney)
John Meagher (Loughmore-Castleiney)
Darragh Mooney (Éire Óg Annacarty-Donohill)
Steven O’Brien (Ballina)
Joe O’Dwyer (Killenaule)
John O’Dwyer (Killenaule)
John O’Keeffe (Clonoulty-Rossmore)
Niall O’Meara (Kilruane MacDonagh’s)
Dáire Quinn (Nenagh Éire Óg)
Willie Ryan (Clonakenny)