Sports

Tipperary Tipped To Win 20th League Title

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Tipperary Tipped To Win 20th League Title thumbnailTipperary centre half back Ronan Maher.

TIPPERARY'S hopes of matching Kerry footballers by winning their 20th League crown may be a difficult assignment when they face rivals Galway in the final at the Gaelic Grounds next Sunday with a 3.30p.m. throw in.

A growing list of injuries will mean that the 72nd league encounter will see Tipperary line out without Seamus Callanan as the Drom Inch man played the full seventy minutes against Wexford last Sunday with a broken thumb.

Callanan scored just three points and was not the usual busy player and he will be sadly missed as Tipp hope to win their first league title in nine years.

That 2008 victory was their last league decider against Galway and now the teams will meet for the tenth time in a final, thus joining the other ten time final pairing of Tipp v Kilkenny.

In addition to Callanan, the Tipp management has the added worry of how full back James Barry will respond to a leg injury sustained late in the Wexford game but team manager Ryan was somewhat optimistic about the Upperchurch man's chances of playing. However he was less optimistic about the chances of Donagh Maher who continues his recovery from a hamstring injury.

The list of injuries will test the strength of the panel overall and players like Alan Flynn, Thomas Hamill, Joe O'Dwyer and Barry Heffernan will see a chance to take over from Barry if required. At the other end the loss of Seamus Callanan will give the likes of Michael Breen, Paul Flynn, Daire Quinn, Kieran Bergin and Patrick Maher a chance to make their name. Maher is of particular interest but Manager Ryan is not going to pressurise him into action too soon following the Lorrha man's return from army duty overseas.

'He joined us as soon as he got off the plane and is working away. He is in great shape. Obviously he has to get some hurling time and the only time is in the hurling field. He is chomping at the bit,' said Michael.

Injury troubles apart, Ryan doesn't need any more as he faces a Galway side determined to avenge last year's All-Ireland semi final defeat, something Michael Ryan doesn't need reminding about as he agreed to the fact Galway put up a strong opposition in the All-Ireland semi final last year and will do so again.

'Of course they will. It was advantage to us by a point in 2016. It was Galway in 2015 and in the intervening league we had a draw in Salthill. There is nothing between Tipp and Galway. It's a great rivalry,' said Ryan.

'We don't meet that often and when we do there is nothing between us. For us to get over against Galway in Croke Park, we were really lucky on the day. We always appreciate that and there was nothing in it,' he added.

There was nothing between the teams last Sunday either and for certain Michael Ryan won't want a repeat of the first hour where Wexford had Tipp by the scruff of the neck until the final ten minutes when Tipp outscored their opponents 3-6 to 1-3

'It wasn't comfortable, only in the second half when we got a few scores to give us some daylight. The goals in the first half stood to us. We were trailing them on points which suggests they were doing the bulk of the work.

'I think they (goals) flattered us to be honest. It was great to get them. They were well engineered and well taken but the game was a lot closer around the middle third,' said a relieved manager.

 

That Tipperary have a decent record against Galway in the league, winning 46 as opposed to 19 with six games ending in a draw, won't impress Ryan plus the fact Tipp have won seven of the last ten meetings 2008-2016 with Galway last winning in 2014 by three points at Pearse Stadium.

Ryan knows that the Galwegians will see last year's All-Ireland semi final as one that got away. It was a day best forgotten by Joe Canning who left the field of play with a hamstring injury that kept him out of action for a number of months. His return has helped Galway turn in some fine if not spectacular performances in Division 1 B and the knockout stages against Waterford and Limerick last Sunday.

He has valuable assistance in Johnny Coen and David Burke at midfield as well as Cathal Mannion and Conor Cooney in attack while Adrian Tuohy, Daithi Burke and Aidan Harte man the defence.

Conor Cooney scored 1-4 against Limerick which should have pleased team manager Micheal Donoghue but the Galway Bainisteoir will want more of an effort in next Sunday's decider. 'I said during the week there are only two national titles you can go for so it is nice to be in a league final. I think we are coming into a bit of form so we are delighted to be getting another competitive game,' said Donoghue after his team beat Limerick in last Sunday's semi final.

Ironically if Galway win next Sunday they will be confined to Division 1 B for the 2018 campaign. How ironic. Losing to Wexford was their downfall and the Model County will go up to Division 1 A instead.

That won't concern Michael Ryan who hopes to see his side create another piece of history by becoming the first Tipp team since 1965 to win a league title following an All-Ireland success the previous September.

In September 1964, Tipp beat Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final and in the course of the following twelve months they beat Kilkenny in the National Hurling League home final in May before accounting for New York the following September following a two legged affair with Tipp winning one game and losing the second but more importantly winning by two points on aggregate.

It won't be on aggregate this time or New York won't enter the frame either. All it is is a straight forward game with their old rivals.

'We never fail to get a good game with Galway. There is a national final to be played for. We are delighted to be in that final. We set out early in the league that we wanted to win this League. That story hasn't changed,' said Michael Ryan.

However with the spirits of last year's championship semi final giving a full strength Galway side very focussed and the fact that Seamus Callanan will be unavailable the margin between the teams will be very close. However goals win games and Tipp's ability to produce them might well turn the game in their favour. Tipp to win by three points.

 

Paths To The Final In The Knock Out Stages

Quarter Finals: Tipperary 4-28 Offaly 3-13; Galway 2-22 Waterford 2-18

Semi Finals: Tipperary 5-18 Wexford 1-19; Galway 1-21 Limerick 1-11

 

Injury Worries A Concern For Michael Ryan

Michael Ryan's side will have to do it the hard way as he faces anxious moments with players on the treatment table following last Sunday's semi final win over Wexford at Nowlan Park.

On leaving Nowlan Park last Sunday he saw full back James Barry leave the field with a leg injury. This was on top of an injury to Donagh Maher sustained earlier in the week and now we hear that Seamus Callanan will almost miss the game because of a broken thumb.

'It's too soon to make any judgement on it just yet. I believe it's anything beyond a belt of a hurley,' said the Tipperary manager in relation to James Barry. When asked about Donagh Maher he said.

'We are hoping. He pulled a hamstring last Tuesday and it depends on the severity of it. Early indications are it's a two to three week one. Sunday might come too soon, we have to wait and see. Usually when we lose a guy on the week of a match we rule him out and pick up the pieces as soon as we can and that will be Tuesday.'

On the positive side, Patrick Maher is back in training following his stint overseas with the Irish Army. Ryan won't pressurise the Lorrha man into action too soon. 'Bonnar has been in. He joined us as soon as he got off the plane and is working away. He is in great shape. Obviously he has to get some hurling time and the only time is in the hurling field. He is chomping at the bit,' said Michael.

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