The Premier County collected the last two All-Ireland U16 hurling titles but Ryan is adamant those successes are not an automatic precursor to minor glory. “It can be misleading,” he said. “Two of our selectors have come forward from those U16 teams and while they’d say it was a great achievement, they admit it is hugely different to minor.
“That is still only a tournament run over a weekend whereas this is a championship run over a five-month period. There are a whole lot of factors whereby players have commitments between club and county teams.”
Injury has deprived Tipperary of attackers John McGrath, younger brother of senior Noel, and Mark Tuite for this game yet Ryan is still satisfied with their progress to date.
“We’ve been quite active and we’re quite happy. It’s all about blending a new team now and we’ll know a lot more about where we stand tomorrow night. I don’t think travelling away is a major problem as we’ve travelled for a lot of challenge games this year. It’s just getting the team to perform.”
Meanwhile Cork manager John Considine is wary of the threat posed by Limerick as he brings his team to the Gaelic Grounds tonight. Considine has been impressed by the college exploits of Árdscoil Rís this season and believes their achievements will enhance Limerick’s prospects.
“They obviously have the Árdscoil players who have built up a lot of big game experience recently,” he said.
“Cork have not really had a great record in the Harty Cup since Colman’s became a non-boarding school with the exception of Midleton a few years back. That’s the way it is and it’s something we have to deal with.”
Considine is without Blackrock defender Dylan Stokes (cruciate). Tonight’s match assumes extra significance as the losers will be forced to prepare for a provincial backdoor tie on Saturday night. “We’ve know from the very start of the year that this is the system so if we end up having to deal with it, we will. The last three Munster minor champions have come through the backdoor.”
LIMERICK (MH v Cork): PJ Hall (Adare); S Irwin (Bruff), B O’Connell (Kildimo), B Murphy (Fedamore); L Ryan (Doon), C Keogh (Na Piarsaigh), B Lynch (Feohanagh/Castlemahon); D Morrissey (Ahane), D Dee (Mungret); D Reidy (Dromin/Athlacca), S Dowling (Na Piarsaigh), M Fitzgibbon (Feohanagh/Castlemahon); K O’Brien (Patrickswell), B O’Connor (Croagh/Kilfinny), J Aherne (Killeedy).
CLARE (MH v Kerry): E Quilligan (Feakle); J Browne (Ballyea), N O’Connor (Newmarket-on-Fergus), S Morey (Sixmilebridge); M Moroney (Parteen), J Shanahan (Sixmilebridge), G O’Connell (Ballyea); C Galvin (Clonlara), T Kelly (Ballyea); A Mulready (Sixmilebridge), C O’Connell (Clonlara), F Melody (Newmarket-on-Fergus); S O’Donnell (Éire Óg Ennis), O Hickey (Meelick), A Cunningham (Wolfe Tones).
KERRY (MH v Clare); K Fitzgibbon (Kenmare); T Moore (Dr Crokes), D Fitzell (Kilmoyley), M O’Halloran (Ballyheigue); D Collins (Kilmoyley), T Barrett (Causeway), K O’Sullivan (Kenmare); E O’Connor (Ballyduff), M Delaney (Causeway); R Heffernan (Lixnaw), PJ Connolly (Ballyduff), L Fitzell (Kilmoyley); D Goulding (Ballyduff), P Boyle (Ballyduff), S Dunne (Ballyheigue).