Big test for Tipp as the hurling year kicks off

Yes, thankfully, its that time of year again; the weather is good and championship fair awaits on Sunday next. Tipp, Cork in ‘the Park’, what a way to start it off. Cork looking to put their strike to bed finally and Tipp trying to ensure that they are still making strides towards a team that can go the whole way!

From a Cork perspective, they don’t have an awful lot to lose, some may disagree with this point! They are in their own patch, have had a good league run, have found some new players, have beaten All-Ireland finalists coming down as favorites and in short have a decent chance of getting a result. A result for Cork would really propel them forward and a Munster title would be most definitely achievable. A loss would not be the end of the world, it would allow them develop their newer players further. Last year campaign will have helped players like Cadogen, Naughton and Patrick Horgan. They are not new to it any more, one or more years under their belt, this breeds confidence. Corks six backs will be strong even if some of them have big mileage up. People questioning Sean Og after the league final, for him the torment caused by Damien Hayes came at the right time, i.e. it could have come in the championship but now he has a chance to correct it. The one thing that may trouble the Cork backs is real pace! So team selection and fitness from the Tipperary perspective is key. Tipp’s pace comes in the form of Corbett, Kerwick, Callinan. From these three, only Callinan is injury free from what is being touted. If it ends up with only Callinan starting from these three, then it plays into Corks backs hands and diminishes Tipp scoring threat significantly.

Looking at Tipp and their preparation, the positives being that Michael Cahill looks like a good addition to their six backs which would release Brendan Maher to midfield. The negatives are that Padraic Maher’s form hasn’t been great. Liam Sheedy’s positioning of his six backs is important and as it looks, Michael Cahill will go to the wing and possibly mark Ben O’Connor. Midfield is definitely strengthened with Brendan Maher’s arrival. This midfield has the making of a very effective pairing for future campaigns, both lads are fine hurlers with big engines. Half forwards are still not the finished article but you have to make do with what you have and get the best from them. The inside line which will include E Kelly and N McGrath are not blessed with pace but have unbelievable hurling brains and skill levels. Who will join the two lads is a question; Brian(Buggy) O’Meara has shown up very well in recent challenges but whether Sheedy and co will start him is questionable. He looks like a very decent prospect at 14 for Tipp, but it may take one or two years for him to fulfill his potential. To fulfill ones potential, you have to gain experience so from this authors view, he should definitely get some game time on Sunday.

If Tipp were to lose on Sunday it would be a setback, maybe not seismic, but definitely a setback. Tipp need to consolidate the confidence they gained last year and no better way than getting a win in Cork. The manner of the win is not of real importance; its digging out the win is priority. Its a big game for the Tipperary squad and a key first step in their defence of their Munster title. What’s important for Tipp is that they take the direct route this year if at all possible, here’s hoping!

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