Seán Curran started every game in the Allianz National Hurling League for Tipperary, but is the Mullinahone man certain of a place in Michael Ryan’s team against Limerick? Photo: Eamonn McGee
Tipperary and Limerick will collide in the opening round of the revamped Munster Senior Hurling Championship on Sunday, May 20th (2pm) at Páirc na nGael, Limerick. But can you guess who will start where on manager Michael Ryan’s team?
Thirty-five different players saw action for Tipperary during the Premier County’s eight-game league campaign. Seán Curran and Ronan Maher started every game and Alan Flynn, Pádraic Maher, Michael Breen and Jason Forde started seven while Brendan Maher also featured in seven. So, those players appear to be in a strong position. But what about the remaining positions? Who do you think will start and where?
Paul Maher (Moyne-Templetuohy), Brian Hogan (Lorrha-Dorrha) and Daragh Mooney all started two games each before Michael Ryan settled on the Éire Óg Annacarty man for the concluding two games in the Allianz National Hurling League campaign.
Having started seven games in the league Kiladangan’s Alan Flynn appears assured of his position in the full-back line, but his colleagues in that area is anyone’s guess. Michael Cahill (Thurles Sarsfields) started three league games and came on in another, but limped out of a recent club contest with a suspected hamstring complaint. James Barry (Upperchurch-Drombane) started five games (one at centre-back) and came on in another while Newport’s Seán O’Brien started four games and was introduced in another. Donagh Maher is an option in this area, but it is understood that the Burgess man could be ruled out through injury (concussion). Tomás Hamill (Moyne-Templetuohy) started four games during the league while Cathal Barrett is a potential solution in the corner, but although the Holycross-Ballycahill man started three league games and was introduced as a substitute in two he did not feature at corner-back.
Pádraic Maher (Thurles Sarsfields) started seven games in the half-back line while Ronan Maher (Thurles Sarsfields) started all eight alternating his time between midfield and the half-back line (scoring 0-14 in the process). Séamus Kennedy (St Mary’s Clonmel) and Barry Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg) both started five games while Paudie Feehan (Killenaule) featured in the starting team on two occasions. Another potential option here is Killenaule’s Joe O’Dwyer who featured in two games.
Both Ronan Maher and Séamus Kennedy are also options in the Tipperary midfield. Otherwise Brendan Maher featured in seven league games and appears a certain starter in the contest with Limerick. Other than the Borris-Ileigh man Seán Curran started all eight league games for Tipperary and finished six of those which suggests that the management team are more than pleased with the contribution of the Mullinahone man (0-13). Curran, of course, could also feature at half-forward. Dan McCormack is another option here as is Noel McGrath, Billy McCarthy and Nenagh Éire Óg’s Dáire Quinn who is back training following a troublesome foot injury.
Ballina’s Michael Breen started seven league games, was introduced as a substitute in another and scored 3-16 which suggests that the Ballina man will start. Breen, however, did also feature on the inside line during the league campaign. Dan McCormack (Borris-Ileigh) has been an outstanding championship hurler for Tipperary since making his debut in 2016, but only started one league game and featured in just two. Noel McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney) was also hampered by injury and started just three games while Patrick Maher (Lorrha-Dorrha) featured in six (five starts) and scored 1-5. Another option here, of course, is Thurles Sarsfields’ Billy McCarthy who started five games, was introduced in one and scored 1-4. The fact that Billy McCarthy was taken off in four of his five starts might count against the Sarsfields man.
Although he played no part during the league Séamus Callanan (Drom & Inch) is likely to feature in come capacity while Jason Forde (Silvermines) appears a certain starter - the ‘Mines man started seven of the league games and scored 7-71 (2-57 from frees). John McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney) featured in six league games (five starts) and scored 1-14 while John O’Dwyer (Killenaule) was introduced as a substitute three times (scored 0-3).
Conor Kenny (Borris-Ileigh), Ger Browne (Knockavilla Kickhams), Paul Shanahan (Upperchurch-Drombane), Cian Darcy (Kilruane MacDonagh’s), Mark Russell (Lattin-Cullen), Niall O’Meara (Kilruane MacDonagh’s) and Willie Connors (Kiladangan) all featured during the league. O’Meara has been tortured by injuries and only started one league game while Willie Connors featured in three (two starts). It is interesting to note, however, that both Cian Darcy and Mark Russell were introduced as substitutes in five games which may suggest that Michael Ryan intends to use both as impact players. Another potential option here is Jake Morris (Nenagh Éire Óg) who was called up to the panel late in recent weeks.
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