Tipp's Ryan eyes up ultimate prize

For a county that calls itself ‘the Home of Hurling’, the gifts have not been coming in abundance for the Tipperary senior panel in recent years.

But that is something their captain Willie Ryan and his colleagues will be hoping to rectify this weekend when they take on Kilkenny in their first All-Ireland SHC decider since 2001.

Ryan has said that the atmosphere in Tipperary is steadily reaching fever pitch as the countdown to the All-Ireland final reaches into its final days.

"It's great to see the flags and bunting out as it had been quiet for a week or two with club games taking over," he said.

"But the players have to step aside from that and just focus on the job at hand and that's getting ready for the All-Ireland and hopefully putting in a good performance."

It has been a very strange year for players captaining teams, and Ryan has found himself in that rocky boat.

Both Ryan and his Kilkenny counterpart Michael Fennelly have found it difficult to win starting places in their respective teams this year.

Ryan came on in the 53rd minute against Clare, as a half-time substitute in the Munster final and a 67th-minute replacement for Lar Corbett last time out against Limerick - indeed he has not started a Championship game this year.

"It is very difficult to get into the starting side this year more than ever. We have had such a settled starting team," he said.

Speaking before last night's team announcement, the 24-year-old admitted: "The team isn't likely to change for the final anyway, bar - God forbid - an injury.

"When you are not playing you have to put in the effort at training and hopefully be in top form.

"There are 35 players there and everyone is chomping at the bit to get on the field and have a piece of the action."

Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy confirmed his team to play Kilkenny last night, making no changes to the side that started their impressive semi-final hammering of Limerick.

TIPPERARY (SHC v Kilkenny) - B Cummins; P Stapleton, P Maher, P Curran; D Fanning, C O'Mahony (capt), B Maher; J Woodlock, S McGrath; P Kerwick, S Callanan, J O'Brien; N McGrath, E Kelly, L Corbett.

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