Shortall’s Tipp ready for the real thing

TIPPERARY senior football manager Andy Shortall will get his first taste of competitive action with the Blue and Gold on Sunday when they line out against Clare in the McGrath Cup semi-final in Clonmel (2pm).

Having taken over this season from Tommy McGlinchey, the former Laois player has already been putting his charges through their paces with challenge matches in recent weeks against Carlow, Meath, University of Limerick and the Connacht club champions Caltra.

"We have put together a big panel so we are giving all players a chance to show," he said. "We can see what each lad is capable of and it is also good preparation for the league. It is important for us to win as many much matches as possible."

Joining Shortall on the selection committee are Mick Byrnes and Jim Cahill and their starting line for Sunday shows seven changes from the team that lost to Donegal in the All-Ireland qualifier in Croke Park last July. Once again much will hinge on the performance of star full forward Declan Browne.

"Declan is a special player but the work must not be left entirely up to him. The other 14 will have to soak some of the pressure too. If we are to make progress it will have to be essentially a team effort," said Shortall.

Meanwhile, Wexford hurling star Liam Dunne will announce his inter-county intentions on his return from the Vodafone hurling All Stars trip to America. Dunne, who has just arrived back from Wexford's trip to San Francisco and Las Vegas, now prepares to jet out as an All Star replacement to Phoenix, Arizona. He spoke with Wexford manager John Conran regarding his future while on the team holiday, but is revealing nothing until his return.

Wexford hurlers started back training last evening but now it's widely expected that Dunne will be part of the squad for one more year at least. While retirements have been mentioned in the camp, team manager John Conran expects to have a full squad which he says will be picked on merit. The Slaneysiders open their competitive campaign on Sunday week when they take on holders Dublin in the Walsh Cup in Piercestown.

Dublin managers Tommy Lyons and Humphrey Kelleher have met with County Secretary John Costelloe in regard to the dual player issue. Mr Costelloe said yesterday that a compromise had yet to be reached on the matter.

Ryan is the best known dual player in the county currently and new hurling manager Humphrey Kelleher is from his club, Naomh Mearnóg. In recent times Ryan was forced to concentrate on football and earned a trip to Australia last October for the international series as a late replacement.

Keaney, one of the most promising young hurlers in the county, was a member of the All-Ireland-winning Under-21 football side (managed by Tommy Lyons) last year.

John Costelloe points out that at minor level, most of their players participate in both games, but that when they leave minor ranks they opt for one game invariably football.

In the context of the development of Dublin hurling at senior inter-county level, he agreed that the overall problem of dual players was a deep-rooted one.

In Offaly, Brian Whelahan could yet be seen in the county colours this season. The Birr star has yet to re-join the county panel, but is due to begin training on his own. After this he will meet with manager Mike McNamara to decide whether or not to commit himself to the team.

'The Underdogs' who were narrowly defeated by Dublin last month will have a special re-union tomorrow when they will play a Kenmare selection in Templenoe at 2.30pm. All proceeds will go towards the Irish Cancer Society.

The Kenmare team will be augmented by a handful of guests including All Ireland medal winners Billy O'Shea (Laune Rangers), Stephen Stack (Listowel Emmetts), ex-Cork full back Mark O'Connor (Bantry Blues) and Kerry's Eoin Brosnan (Dr Crokes).

The after match function involving a meal and presentation of medals will be held at Mickey Ned's Bar in Kenmare.

TIPPERARY: P Ryan (Commercials); S Collum (JK Brackens), D Byrne (Fethard), B Hahessy (Carrick Swan); P Hally (Rockwell Rovers), T Russell (Aherlow), N Fitzgerald (Moyle Rovers); K Mulryan (JK Brackens), M Tarrant (Capt) (Cahir); G Burke (Fethard), A Fitzgerald (Fethard), J Williams (Moyle Rovers); T Doyle (Killenaule), D Browne (Moyle Rovers), D O'Brien (Eire Óg-Annacarthy).

Subs: P Fitzgerald (Fethard), R Costigan (Cahir), L Cronin (Moyle Rovers), L England (Inane Rovers), E Hanrahan (Commercials), J P Looby (Fethard), C Maher (Fethard), P O'Mahoney (Commercials), N Sheehan (Arravale Rovers), M Webster (Loughmore/Castleiney).

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