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Tipperary looking to get back on winning track

Thursday, 1 February 2018

LOOKING at last Sunday's results and indeed results of the past, it seemed that home advantage is ideal for any county and next Saturday night Tipperary return to Semple Stadium when they take on Waterford in a bid to secure their first points of the league after losing to Clare last Sunday.

Their opponents, Waterford, are in the same boat having surprisingly lost to Wexford at Walsh Park last Sunday. As a result Tipperary manager Michael Ryan sees Saturday's game as a potential winners takes all, just like in a Cup game. On the other hand defeat (for either side will) make access to the quarter finals very difficult.

And while gaining a place in the quarter finals is the ideal world for Tipp, Ryan, like other managers, is carefully planning their campaign as a result of the change in the format of the Munster and Leinster championships.

"It's a twin track approach trying to pick up our points anywhere while trying to improve our panel at the same time. There is a little bit of a cup match going on. This league is going to throw up days like that. Potentially either of us could be on zero points after next Saturday and nobody wants to be in that situation. They want to be in the mix," said Ryan after the defeat in Cusack Park last Sunday.

Next Saturday's game will be the 46th Allianz Hurling game between Tipperary and Waterford with the Premier winning 33 games against nine to Waterford while the games finished all square on three occasions.

It was the 2010 when the sides last shared the spoils at Semple Stadium and since then the teams met seven times with Tipp winning four starting with the 1-20 to 0-18 win in 2011. The new league format of six teams in Division 1A and six in Division 1B commenced the following year and the teams met in six league games during that period but they sit on equal terms with three wins each.

Except for Tipp's nine point win in 2012 and their six point win last year, there has never been more than a puck of a ball between the sides with one point separating the sides in three of those games.

So the twin track approach is very much on Ryan's mind with a place in the quarter finals up for grabs in a must win game but at the same time he realises how tough a game next Saturday is going to be.

"We won't be pressing any panic buttons. There is a lot of hurling to be played yet to decide who will be in the quarter finals. We would love to get to there. We had five rounds to do it and its down to four now. We don't know who will take points from whom but we just got to be measured in what we are looking for this year," said Ryan with the knowledge that there will be changes to the team, owing to the fact that some of his players are involved in the Fitzgibbon Cup this week.

One thing for certain is that Seamus Callanan won't be playing as he continues to recover. He had his surgery last Monday week while Niall O'Meara is unlikely to be playing either as he continues to recover from a chest injury.

" The minute the surgeon leaves down the knife, the recovery starts. That was last Monday week," said Ryan.

" It's an anxious number of weeks for Seamie. Nobody likes to be injured. He is getting the best care and hopefully he will be getting back to what he is best doing and that is terrorising backs. Niall O'Meara has come back to full training with us. He missed a couple of weeks. I think next Saturday (against Waterford) will come too soon," revealed the Tipperary manager.

Injury worries or not, Tipperary will be expected to make a number of changes for Saturday next. The subs bench last Sunday had a healthy look about and James Barry, Michael Breen, Dan McCormack, Brendan Maher and John McGrath held back but they could be called on to start this time round. Paul Shanahan and Mark Russell may get a call up also.

Losing to Wexford in last Sunday's encounter at Walsh Park should give Waterford enough ambition to go all out for a win. Playing against the breeze in the opening half the Deise fell in arrears very early on and trailed 0-12 to 0-6 at half time but they recovered in the second half and a run of points brought them within three of the leaders before Derek McGrath's men suffered two sucker punches of goals in the fourth quarter to lose by seven points in the end.

McGrath's side are prone to play a defensive game and this could be the recipe for a win. So it's all to play for and depending on how serious either team is taking the league will determine who is going to win.

On paper Tipp have the material but we will wait and see. Home advantage should help also.

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