Sports

Tricky test for Tipp at Parnell Park

Thursday, 15 March 2018

IN THEORY it's Tipperary in first place against Dublin in 10th place, which might suggest there is a vast difference in ability, but that difference might well be narrowed by the time Tipperary and Dublin complete their Allianz Hurling League quarter final at Parnell Park next Sunday, throw in 3pm.
However there is something romantic about this pairing. Next Sunday's clash will be their 35th league meeting and their tenth in the last eleven years. Tipp has dominated the pairing with twenty one victories as against nine for Dublin and the teams finished level four times.
That lead of twelve wins might suggest that Tipp always have the upperhand but nothing could be further from the truth as recent clashes has demonstrated especially when the teams meet at Parnell Park.
Just three years ago, Tipp travelled to Parnell Park for the league opener but they were soundly beaten 2-20 to 0-14. Back in 2010 it was the same fate with the margin down to nine points 1-21 to 1-12. Indeed Dublin venues have been a problem for Tipp with recent appearances at Headquarters resulting in defeat (2011) and a draw the following year. However things have improved for Tipp in more recent encounters where Tipp overwhelmed The Capital 1-24 to 1-8 over twelve months ago. One year previous Tipp were easy winners 1-23 to 0-12 at Semple Stadium.
That trend of one sided encounters and Dublin's less than satisfactory performances in league and championship over the last two years might tempt the critics to suggest that Tipp will win next Sunday's clash with ease but I am afraid to take too much for granted.
Since taking over as manager Pat Gilroy has take time to find his feet. Results have been poor starting with the Walsh Cup in Leinster. The opening league game against Offaly resulted in a big defeat but they recovered to beat Antrim by a point. Not the strongest of opposition you might agree but the tough tests were ahead, first against Limerick when Dublin lost by twelve and against Galway when the margin was much more respectable Galway 1-20 Dublin 1-14.
Last Sunday was their final round robin game and they easily defeated Laois by 3-23 to 0-17, a surprising outcome when one looks at the winning margin of fifteen points.
Donal Burke was their scorer in chief with 0-11 including seven frees and a '65' but Pat Gilroy has kept faith with the experienced players such as Johnny McCaffrey, Ryan O'Dwyer and Danny Sutcliffe. It remains to be seen if Gilroy has unearthed a passion in the Dublin fraternity and they seek a return to the top but one feels that next Sunday will be a test too far against a Tipp side that is beginning to look good.
After last Sunday's win over Cork their manager Michael Ryan indicated that with the knockout stages of the league on offer the serious stuff starts now in terms of players taking hold of their places on the starting fifteen. This is after Ryan had used a rotation system in giving players every chance to stake a place through the round robin stages of the league.
“In the initial stages, we said we'd use as many as we could. From now on the competition really starts. Every game we play is knockout. We want to progress as far as we can. It's really good for the squad and that's the way we'll be approaching it next Sunday," said Ryan after last Sunday's game.
He indicated that Brian Hogan, who made his League debut last Sunday, would play his second game. The other goalkeepers in the panel, Paul Maher and Darragh Mooney has already tasted two games each.
“Brian will be playing next Sunday. That will equalise the opportunities. It's going to put pressure back on us for sure. We've got to nail it pretty soon. It's healthy. That's the one thing the guys want in there - they come to train. Every week they put themselves in the shop window and the attitude to training is first class." he added.
As Ryan stated the competition starts here. Parnell Park has been a troublesome spot for Tipp but they appear to be in the right frame of mind at the moment and they should win with six or seven points to spare.

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