Clash of champions in Croke Park

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Clash of champions in Croke Park thumbnailNoel McGrath will be hoping Tipperary stay on course to retain the Liam McCarthy Cup, when they take on Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park on Sunday next. MT31479JOC

NEXT SUNDAY'S All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final brings together the reigning All-Ireland champions Tipperary and Allianz League and Leinster champions Galway in what promises to be a pulsating tussle.
It will be the third year in succession that the sides have met at the All-Ireland stage of the championship and it stands at one win apiece after two titanic clashes in each of those games.
Galway came out on top in 2015 when a late point gave them a shock one point victory but the tables were turned last year when Tipperary were on the right side of a one point victory margin on their way to recapturing the McCarthy Cup.
Sunday's game could be just as close again. Tipperary will have revenge in their minds after suffering a heavy defeat to Galway in the Allianz Hurling League final in Limerick in April. The league had gone well for Tipp up to that but manager Michael Ryan said their mindset wasn't right on the day and they suffered the consequences.
It seemed to impact on the team as well as weeks later they were bundled out of the Munster championship by Cork in the quarter finals but have bounced back since with victories over Westmeath, Dublin and Clare to claim their place in Sunday's semi-final.
Galway maintained the momentum from their League final victory and romped through the Leinster championship with victories over Dublin, Offaly and Wexford to claim the title for the second time.
Joe O'Dwyer remains the only real doubt for Tipperary but the medical team is doing everything possible to have him ready.
Manager Michael Ryan is happy with the way Tipperary have progressed following the defeat to Cork.
“There are four teams in the competition and Tipp have to be careful and value the opportunity because Tipp came from a low base from the first day they played Westmeath up here. That display left a lot of supporters very frustrated. The Dublin game was a marked improvement while the Clare game was a step in the right direction. It needed to be because that was a quality Clare side.
Galway now provides the opposition for the semi final, an opposition that crushed Tipp in the recent league final.
“We weren't in the right mindset for that league final. Galway are worthy league and Leinster champions. The opposition happens to be Galway again and we remember the tight game last year and the year before. We haven't been performing very well and at full back in particular.
“I am watching these guys (Tipp players) and I am watching their body language. They are just growing in confidence. We need it because we are in an All-Ireland semi final. The standard is higher again and we are up against one of the two form teams in 2017. So it's a challenge. The pressure is not on us. The pressure is on us to get to a level to play."
Team captain Padric Maher reflected on their victory over Clare in the quarter finals. "We knew it was going to be a battle with Clare. I think it was 2011 since we played them in the championship so we didn't know what to expect in a way so we were happy to get through it. We learnt plenty from it, we wouldn't be totally happy with all aspects of our play but in terms of work rate and endeavour of the lads we were happy."
“Definitely they (Galway) are a way more rounded team this year than they were the last few years. They can hurt you in so many ways and seem to be working very hard for one another so we'll have to match that all day long," said Padraic.
“They are definitely improving, you can see that. That's they way we would have treated them the last two years when we played them.
“The showed in the league final that if we are not on song what they can do to us. They played very well in the league final but we have to hold our hands up and say we were a no show the same day."
“I think slowly but surely we are proving that we are not all that bad that day and are getting back to where we want to be. We are by no means at that at the moment but we are very close. Once we get the work rate right and we get the tackle count right we feel our hurling will finish the job," said the Tipp captain.
While the focus on Sunday will be on Croke Park, on Saturday Tipperary and Galway will also be in action in Semple Stadium in the All-Ireland camogie quarter final with a 7pm throw in. Tipp qualified from their group by the skin of their teeth, a single point on scoring difference, while Galway finished second in their group with three wins from four but it will be all on the day on Saturday in what will be the first big Tipp-Galway clash of the weekend.


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