Michael Breen would have started for Tipperary against Cork yesterday but for a freak injury which will rule him out for at least four weeks.
Breen was doing sprints with fitness coach Gary Ryan at training last Thursday when he went over on his ankle.
While Tipperary await a full diagnosis, at a minimum he’ll miss their remaining Munster round-robin games.
“We’re waiting on a proper diagnosis. He got a very unfortunate injury. He was actually picked to play on Thursday night,” said Ryan.
“It wasn’t in contact. It was as innocuous as you’ve ever seen. It was just sprinting, doing the stuff with Gary.
“He’s hurt an ankle ligament and we just have to wait to see the extent of it.
“We certainly won’t see him for four weeks. He’s very unlucky.”
Ryan hopes Cathal Barrett will be fit enough to make the matchday panel next week against Waterford, while Niall O’Meara is also back in contention.
Getting gametime into Seamus Callanan and Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher was some welcome good news.
“To get Seamie Callanan almost a whole match was a really big thing for us. We didn’t think we would.
“We thought we might get to minute 40 or 45, but he was really trying right to the end and that’ll bring him on a ton.”
It was sheer bloody-mindedness that saved Tipperary from a third consecutive defeat, Ryan agreed, after a disastrous first half saw them trail by nine points at the break.
“It was a horrible first half for us. Cork were all over us. We were literally chasing shadows all over Semple Stadium.
“We didn’t get to express ourselves or take control of any part of that first half.
“It was just Cork, Cork, Cork. We were in dire straits. They had answers for questions we hadn’t even asked.
“We weren’t in the least happy.
“The bucket was holed everywhere at half-time but only the collective could’ve turned that around. We saw that in spades.
“There were loads of mistakes made but the positives outweighed it to pull back that kind of a lead. We’re the ones that salvaged a draw and it feels like a win almost, but it’s not. It’s a draw.
“We have to be very real about this too. There’s a lot of hurling left to be played but we’re still alive.
“We are certainly enthused with the result and we will certainly go with a little bit more of a pep in our step into next Sunday.
“We need to play at that level and above. That’s the thing that’s been elusive for us.”
Facing into a crucial meeting of the bottom pair in the Munster league table, Ryan knows that Tipperary need to improve further.
“Things need to turn for Tipp. We’ve had a tough time. Results haven’t gone our way lately.
“We deliberately got those two young fellas (Jake Morris and Ger Browne) onto the pitch today because you could not buy the experience of playing out there.
“The fellas who played against Limerick and we didn’t see out there today (Alan Flynn, Donagh Maher, Barry Heffernan, Willie Connors, and Sean Curran), they haven’t gone away. They’re still fighting and that’s what we need.
“We have a really good fighting chance in this championship yet.”
For John McGrath, who scored five second-half points and knocked Sean O’Donoghue off the ball to set up Morris’s leveller, that 35-minute performance was the confidence-booster Tipperary needed.
“We showed everything that’s good about Tipp hurling in that second half,” said the Loughmore man.
“We put in a massive effort and we’re a little bit disappointed with the draw. We’ve a big second half to work with and give us confidence going forward.”
He added that their first-half failures were matters that were solved with simple tweaks.
“I don’t think it was anything major. We just needed to tweak things. Cork were really clever with the ball and we just needed to shove up a little bit.
“Mark Ellis was a real out-ball for them in the backs and we tightened up on that in the second half.
“We added that bit of pressure, backed ourselves to go man-for-man and trusted ourselves.
“That showed out there in the second half.”
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.