Former Tipperary captain Eoin Kelly believes that Premier manager Michael Ryan may decide to drop star forward Seamus Callanan for Saturday’s round 2 hurling qualifier, writes Stephen Barry.
Ryan withdrew Michael Breen and Callanan in the early stages of the second-half in last Saturday’s laboured victory over Westmeath, with both forwards having been held scoreless from play.
Kelly made his Tipperary debut in Ryan’s final game in 2000 and spent five years playing under Ryan, who was a selector with Liam Sheedy for the 2010 All-Ireland victory. The Mullinahone man believes he may wield the axe to “get under a few skins” and provoke a reaction.
“Seamus Callanan is suffering from a lack of form and the whole Tipperary team’s confidence has taken a big battering recently,” said Kelly in his first Paddy Power column.
“I believe it stems from the beating they took from Galway in the National League final; to be hammered by 16 points would knock any side’s self-belief. It’s worrying that Callanan is not on top of his game too, because for the last three years he has been utterly phenomenal.
“Sometimes if your half-backs and midfield are not dominating, the full-forward line can be a lonely place.
“There will be two or three fresh faces against Dublin that didn’t play against Cork, so lads are getting their chance to bring a bit of hunger back into the team. That’s what Tipp boss Michael Ryan is trying to do.
“So I wouldn’t be surprised if he dropped Callanan this weekend against Dublin.
“Now, I wouldn’t do it. However, that’s how Ryan could get under a few skins in order to see if he can get the panel chomping at the bit for an All-Ireland quarter-final. He could simply say, ‘Right lads, it’s over to ye now’.”
Kelly points to the reactions Ryan has received from benched players in the past, including John O’Dwyer, who scored a crucial late goal in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final, and John McGrath, who overcame a hamstring injury to make a substitute appearance last weekend, scoring 1-1 after replacing Callanan.
“Ryan might well be ruthless with a couple of these guys. Seamus Callanan, John McGrath and John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer would be on my team to face Dublin but we’ve seen in the past that when they are left off the pitch they bite back.
“Bubbles was dropped against Galway last year and he delivered when he came on. McGrath did the same last time out, so you’ve seen the manager being clinical before, and he may do it again this weekend.
“It’s a favourable draw against Dublin and it will be interesting to see who Ryan goes with as the pressure is slightly off with a home tie.”
Kelly also speaks about how Derek McGrath’s legacy depends on beating Kilkenny this Saturday in his Paddy Power column.