Two former Tipperary forwards are concerned Liam Sheedy’s team could suffer against Limerick in the Munster Final as a result of beating them last Sunday week. Joe Hayes and Ger ‘Redser’ O’Grady have different worries about facing Limerick so soon after the Round 5 game in LIT Gaelic Grounds though O’Grady believes Tipperary should still win.
Hayes is perturbed Sheedy didn’t make more use of his panel in the win over Limerick when they lost Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher for a season and likely Cathal Barrett for Sunday.
“I’ve a feeling Barrett will play,” says Hayes. “I just think he will have himself right for this. Bonner is a huge loss and maybe Liam should have given others a run against Limerick when you could see how Limerick were shadow boxing. John Kiely wanted to give players a break.
“It’s going to be nothing like that on Sunday. My fear is the same subs are coming on for Tipp and not enough of the panel is being used. It must be really frustrating for those on the bench who are seeing the same faces being used. The game against Limerick in Thurles was the chance to give those fellas some action.
"But losing Bonner is the first crisis they have to meet and the strength of the panel is going to be tested.”
For the injuries alone, O’Grady felt the game 11 days ago was costly.
“We came out the worst of that,” agreed the former captain. “We lost Bonner and we went full pelt at it and people are saying that suited Limerick psychologically and they have them favourites because they rested Cian Lynch and Graeme Mulcahy. But Tipp have room for improvement too. They gave away a lot of silly frees and I still think they will win.
“Bonner had been playing the best hurling of his life. He’s a real workhorse but we have something similar in Dan McCormack. Like Bonner, he’s not known for his scoring but creating frees and turnovers and Dan will likely be the man to replace him.”
O’Grady sure hopes Hayes is right and Barrett is fit, although Sheedy has already ruled him out.
“For me, Cathal Barrett is the best pound-for-pound corner-back in Ireland. He’s strong, he’s fast and he’s borderline without giving away too many frees. He intimidates corner-forwards. Michael was wrong playing him in midfield last year and he’s going to be some loss in the full-back line.
“I know Cathal marked Aaron Gillane the last day but I’d have thought he would be ideal for Graeme Mulcahy this weekend. He’s made for him, really. Gillane is a man that has to be stopped but there’s still a good bit of pace and bite about Alan Flynn and Seán O’Brien.”
With Tipperary having won all four of their round games and Limerick losing two, there have been some quibbles among the Tipp support about the validity of the home-away agreement between the counties and their team having to travel to the Ennis Road venue this weekend.
Hayes isn’t one of them. “There’s a home-away agreement there and it wouldn’t be good to renege on a deal that has been there for some time now. It’s not ideal going to Limerick but Tipp have to go there and to win there would be huge.”
O’Grady accepts the Gaelic Grounds is worth something to Limerick but believes Tipperary have the edge. “It’s going to be a full house and what’s more important is the great support Limerick have. They brought a massive crowd to Thurles and when the teams came out the last day there was a bigger roar for Limerick than when Seamie (Callanan) led Tipp out. In Limerick, that’s going to be worth two or three points to them.
“I still believe Tipperary can do it. They are the form team of 2019 and Limerick have been beaten twice and that’s not good psychologically. They might have rested players but John Kiely didn’t tell them to go out and lose against Tipp. Liam Sheedy has Tipp flying and the forwards are playing better than they ever have.”