The View: Total focus will be required if Tipperary are to emerge from Pairc na nGael fortress

Noel Dundon

Reporter:

Noel Dundon

Email:

nd@tipperarystar.ie

Win tickets to Limerick's Munster hurling championship clash with Tipp

Limerick will attack Tipperary from all sectors on Sunday and The Premier lads had better be up for it.

Tipp's learning process thusfar will come under stern scrutiny and examination against Limerick on Sunday

The importance of winning Sunday's Munster Senior Hurling Championship opener in Pairc na nGael, Limerick cannot be overstated as Tipperary prepare to enter the lion's den to tackle the Shannonsiders.

With the championship format turned on its head and the Premier County facing into an unprecedented four consecutive Sunday outings, the goal of winning the first game is highly desirable.
Win, and the pressure is off for a few days at least until Cork come to Semple Stadium seven days later. Lose, and the pressure is really on.
In many ways, the Munster championship will be like the Allianz National Hurling League with games coming thick and fast. Limerick, Cork, Waterford and Clare will provide the opposition - all very formidable opponents, you'll agree.
Question: right now, which two sides do you see not making the qualifying stages? It's a difficult question and at this stage, one which is unanswerable.
On the face of it, with Waterford having no home advantage in any of their games, the odds are stacked against them. But, who would bet against Derek McGrath's men not making the cut.
Granted there have been rumblings coming out of the county in recent weeks, but similar rumblings can be said to be emerging from all the counties in the championship, in some shape or form.
One would feel that given their grá for playing in Semple Stadium, Cork have two home games and then two home-away-from-home games against Tipperary and Waterford.
Does that tip the scales in their favour a little?


Will Bubbles play on Sunday?

Perhaps though, instead of worrying about everyone else, Tipperary should be focusing on themselves. That's the message Michael Ryan and his back room team will be emphasising this week and for the next few weeks as well.
Forget about the background noise and all the traditionalists moaning about the erosion of the significance of the provincial championship.
The system is what it is now and Tipperary, like the others, must get on with it.

Back to the Limerick tie.
Going to Pairc na nGael is never easy and given that it took Tipperary extra-time to get over John Kiely's men in the league semi-final, they will have their tails up as they roll out the red carpet of welcome for Tipp on Sunday.
Limerick will know too that while Tipperary were without a few key players for that league clash, they were without the Na Piarsaigh contingent who were tied up with All-Ireland final duties.
Few teams have hit Tipperary for as a big a score as Limerick did on that evening in Semple Stadium - and, remember, the visitors were also very erratic in their shooting on that occasion.
Expect them to have tidied up on their shooting considerably in the interim.
If they are creating chances on Sunday, they'll be taking a much higher percentage of them than they managed in Semple Stadium a few weeks ago.
Limerick will bring a level of aggression to the game which Tipperary simply must stand-up to and match.
Worryingly, we did not do that against Kilkenny in the Allianz National League final - our last competitive outing.
And, in many ways, going to Pairc na nGael will be similar to going to Nowlan Park.
Tipperary have lost quite a few big games in Limerick in recent times and it won't be forgotten either that the hosts have won the last two championship ties against Tipp which followed league final defeats to Kilkenny - 2013 and 2014.


That's all in the past though and the future for Tipperary has to be all about the next five days.
The physical work has been done at this stage and the players are as ready for the fray as they are going to be. Now, getting the heads right is the key.
Be out of kilter on Sunday and Limerick will exploit whatever chinks materialise.
It will require total concentration, calculated killer instinct and ruthlessness to emerge with the points from over the Shannon.
We have seen all of those traits from Tipperary at different stages - on Sunday we will need to see them all coming together.


Where will Ronan Maher play - centre back, wing back, midfield, full back?

Picking the Tipp team is anyone's guess and that is worrying.
Normally, you would be able to select 12/13 of the players in their positions come championship time.
At this stage, we might be able to predict 12 starters, but where they'll play is anyone's guess.
Michael Ryan is on record as saying that more players will be used in this championship than ever before and in that sense the league campaign, though it didn't end with silverware, might just have been a success.
We know now what a lot of players are, or are not, capable of; what role they can play; what they can offer the team.

This learning process will come under stern examination on Sunday and beyond - if we have the answers to the questions asked, the brilliant. If not, it could be a difficult afternoon in Limerick.
But, there is a feeling across the county that the players will respond to the huge challenge posed in this year's championship.
There is faith in the management and belief in the talent and capabilities of the players at their disposal.
The hurling wherewithall is there in abundance - the key is to get the application in equal measure.
Recovery won't be a problem for Sunday's game, but once the final whistle sounds - win, lose or draw - the process of refreshing and renewing the bodies, and the minds, must begin.
Lose, and all is not lost. Win, and we are off to a flier.
Draw - well, that wouldn't be too bad either.
A share of the spoils could well be on the cards in Limerick.