Tipperary’s rotation policy to be tested on Sunday against Cork

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Tipperary’s rotation policy to be tested on Sunday against Cork thumbnailPatrick Maher comes away with the ball against Kilkenny in last Sunday's game at Nowlan Park. Picture: Bridget Delaney.

MICHAEL Ryan's rotation policy in this year's Allianz Hurling League could well be tested when Tipperary take on Cork in the fifth and final round of the Allianz Hurling League at Semple Stadium next Sunday, throw in 2.30pm.

In comparing the Tipp team that lined out against Kilkenny last Sunday, only six of the starting fifteen were on the line up against Cork in last year's Munster Senior Hurling quarter final.

It is a telling statistic of how far Michael Ryan has gone in giving his players as much experience as possible. James Barry, Seamus Kennedy, Ronan Maher, Brendan Maher, Sean Curran and Michael Breen were on duty last Sunday and against Cork last year while Alan Flynn and Niall O'Meara were brought on as substitutes.

Michael Ryan is in a quandary then. Select another experimental team and Tipp might well lose this game on Sunday and face a game in a relegation play off. Select a strong team and Tipp should have the ability and the skill level to win and reach the quarter finals.

If Ryan is looking at the Cork team he might well see a weakened Rebel side as John Meyler will have to pick a team without Seamus Harnedy who will miss the game having been sent off in last Sunday's defeat against Waterford. In addition Conor Lehane had to cry off at half time last Sunday with an ankle injury and is deemed very likely to miss next Sunday's encounter.

Tipp supporters will hope for a win and we should expect a full lineout with Paul Maher returning to goal while Padraic Maher, Noel McGrath, Jason Forde and John McGrath will also return. Forde and John McGrath missed last Sunday's game because of their involvement with the Fitzgibbon Cup final which met with success for the Tipp duo.

Injuries continue to trouble Tipp's preparations and Niall O'Meara joined the list after last Sunday's game when he retired with a dislocated shoulder. He joins Joe O'Dwyer, Seamus Callanan, Dan McCormack, Cathal Barrett and John O'Dwyer. O'Dwyer is said to be troubled by a leg injury and won't make the starting fifteen for a while said a source in the Tipp backroom.

Next Sunday will be the 61st league meeting between the sides with Cork currently leading the way with 30 victories. Tipperary have 26 wins and there have been five draws. Semple Stadium is the venue next Sunday and it has hosted 24 league games with Tipp winning 13 as opposed to nine for Cork with the teams level on two occasions. In comparison, Pairc Ui Chaoimh hosted 22 games but Tipp trail by one 9 to 10 and three draws.

No doubt Semple Stadium suits Tipp best and recent games at the Stadium of heroes resulted in victories in the 2014 and 2016 encounters. Tipp defeated Cork at Pairc Ui Rinn in 2015 and had they won last year - again in Pairc Ui Rinn - they would have completed a four in a row of wins over the Rebels, a feat Tipp had twice before achieved in 1968 and in latter times 2002.

However there is a sting in the tail whether Tipp win or lose. As we said a win will guarantee a place in the quarter finals but looking at the league table in Division 1A it is likely that Tipp will finish in 3rd or 4th place. As a result Tipp will face either Galway or Limerick both of whom will finish first or second depending on who wins in that clash next Sunday.

Then again, one has to beat any team no matter what strengths they possess if they want success and Tipp supporters want success more than ever.

Next Sunday, Tipp will take one step to rectify that dream with a win against their great rivals. Roll on the knockout stages.


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