Major injury concerns for Tipp as semi-final showdown looms

Tipperary may be without Eoin Kelly, John O’Dwyer, John O’Brien and Brian O’Meara for Sunday’s Allianz National Hurling League Division 1 semi-final against Dublin.

But the positive news from the Premier County is that 2010 All-Ireland SHC medallist Gearoid Ryan, a two-time All-Star nominee, has rejoined Eamon O’Shea’s squad following recent injury problems.

Ahead of Sunday, six-time All-Star Kelly is a doubt with a hamstring injury while O’Brien damaged a finger in a training match against Tipperary’s intermediate side recently.

O’Brien did not feature for Toomevara in last weekend’s north senior hurling championship defeat against Silvermines. O’Meara, meanwhile, is struggling with a groin strain and O’Dwyer, who has made a big impact in his debut season at senior level, has a back problem. Kelly scored 2-8 against Clare in his last competitive outing and would be a massive blow to O’Shea’s plan.

Tipperary selector Michael Ryan revealed: “Eoin is recovering and recovering fast but it may be a case that the game is coming a bit too quick. Eoin is still holding the candle that he will be okay and I’m holding the same candle. We’d love to have him but we’ll make that call on Sunday.”

O’Dwyer also started against the Banner County, with O’Brien and O’Meara introduced as subs. Ryan also confirmed that Gearoid Ryan returned to the Tipp squad on Tuesday evening but admitted that the Templederry Kenyons clubman is “a long way off” full fitness.

Selector Ryan explained: “We have our injury problems but the upside is Gearoid Ryan has rejoined training and that’s absolutely brilliant. He’s a long way off the boys in terms of fitness but it’s fabulous to have him back on the field. We had him in at the beginning of the year but his body just wasn’t able to take the load we were putting on. He has an ongoing groin injury that hampered him in 2012 as well that he never really got the better of. It’s a pretty long-term one but we’re delighted to see him make steady progress, he’s stuck to his regime and the prognosis is working.”

And Ryan warned that Division 1B champions Dublin will travel to Thurles with no fear, having secured promotion to the top flight.

He explained: “For (Dublin manager) Anthony Daly, he’s already after securing Division 1A for next season and there’s a massive amount of pressure lifted from their campaign already. We played Dublin in a challenge in Nenagh in January and what we’ve come to expect from them is exactly what we got — very well prepared, strong and committed. This Dublin team is a bit like Tipperary in that they hadn’t a good season last year and they’re out to make amends. But they won the league in 2011 and put us to the pin of our collar in the All-Ireland semi-final. That was a toss of a coin game and could have gone either way. Our recent history against Dublin tells us not to take them lightly. When I was involved last in 2010, they gave us a mother and father of a beating at Parnell Park. These guys won’t fear coming to play us in Thurles but we’re not going to kid ourselves here and pretend we don’t have a chance. We’re after coming through a tough campaign — certainly the toughest league campaign I’ve never been involved in or seen. Next Sunday, we’re expecting as close to championship fare as you’ll get.”

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