Tipp have greater strength in depth

TIPPERARY and Cork renew acquaintances at Semple Stadium this evening for the opening game of the Munster U21 championship.

A number of players from both sides were involved in Sunday’s senior clash and the proximity of the matches has posed complications for the two management teams.

“It has been difficult,” admits Tipperary selector Ken Hogan. “We had five players involved in some shape or form on Sunday. But we’ve worked away and got the whole panel together a few Wednesday nights. The senior lads are very genuine and mature, and they were in on Monday with us in training.”

Cork boss John Considine can easily relate. It’s been an odd year for the U21 manager, who was cast into the temporary role of overseeing the senior side’s fortunes during the chaotic saga earlier this season.

“It’s a difficult situation having games so close together but I guess it’s worse for Tipperary, as they’ve even more players involved,” said Considine. “But even if this game was played next week, it wouldn’t make any difference as fellas would be back playing county championship.

“It was a bit unexpected being in charge of the seniors for a while. It helped that with the new burnout rules, we could only have trials before May 1 which meant we were watching fellas in college games and not really doing much else.”

Having to deal with senior involvement was highly pertinent for Cork last year. Two days after the seniors stirring All-Ireland qualifier win over Galway, the U21s face Clare in Páirc Uí Chaoimh but were trounced by the Banner.

“That senior game last year was an evening match in Thurles, which was so draining and exciting. Then we had six fellas who were asked to play two nights after. You wouldn’t ask Premiership teams to do that. We ended up just having a terrible performance, both physically and mentally. But we’re trying to make amends now.”

Tipperary’s credentials at this level are impressive with their team having garnered All-Ireland minor medals in 2006 and 2007, yet Hogan is wary of assumptions this will automatically translate to senior success.

“I had success myself at minor level, but that doesn’t necessarily continue on. The minor All-Irelands were great but we’re endeavouring to move on. We have to start by playing the first game and whoever wins will have a huge chance to win Munster.”

Tipperary have retained a large chunk of last year’s side that lost out to Kilkenny in the All-Ireland U21 decider. They have massive strength down the middle of their defence in Padraig Maher and Thomas Stapleton, while Brendan Maher is a superb wing-back. In attack Seamus Callanan and Noel McGrath are the marquee names but Pa Bourke and Shane Burke are also dangerous.

Cork are going to need Jack Herlihy and Conor O’Sullivan in top form in defence while Paudie O’Sullivan, nominally a forward, has a key role at centre-back. Patrick Horgan will spearhead the scoring drive, but he’ll need support from Brian Corry and Robert O’Driscoll. Ultimately Tipperary seem to have packed greater strength into their side and home advantage should help propel them to a semi-final date against Waterford.

TIPPERARY: B McCormack; D Maher, P Maher, K Maher; B Maher, T Stapleton, T McGrath; S Hennessy, G Ryan; M Gleeson, S Callanan, N McGrath; P Bourke, P Maher, S Burke.

CORK: C Cronin; K Murphy, J Herlihy, C O’Sullivan; A Walsh, P O’Sullivan, S White; L Desmond, W Egan; B Corry, L McLoughlin, R White; R O’Driscoll, P Horgan, A Walsh.

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