Dual minor Jarlath Colleran comes into the team at right half-back instead of Martin Moroney, while Eoin Enright and Peter Duggan are introduced to the half-forward positions instead of Alan Mulready and Frank Melody. A persistent shoulder injury has ruled Melody out while Shane Liddy was not considered after being diagnosed with two crackedvertebrae in his neck. With 18 players finishing their Leaving Cert exams this week, O’Connor hopes it will not affect their performance.
“We’re in the exact same boat as we were last year with so many doing the Leaving and it’s just a case of mental tiredness more than physical really,” he said.
“We were very flat for long periods against Limerick in the semi-final last year before we won that match. We’ll need to work on that tonight.
“We don’t really know where we’re at this year as with all due respects to Kerry, our game against them was not very competitive. Tipperary have two tough games behind them, we were at the Cork match and were very impressed with the movement and skill in their team. Home advantage will be a help to them as they’re familiar with the surroundings in Thurles.”
Tipperary boss Raymie Ryan has seen his players juggle exam commitments with hurling training, while six of his panel are also involved with the county minor footballers who play Cork in the Munster final.
“It’s been a very stressful period for the lads but it’s been about getting the balance right for them,” he said.
“Hurling is only a sport whereas the Leaving Cert is key to their future. We’ve allowed them time to focus on their studies but I know they’relooking forward to this game now.
“We haven’t played Clare in a challenge this year and there was no DVD available of their tie with Kerry, so we’re going into the unknown to an extent. But they’ve some excellent hurlers and are going to be very difficult opponents.”
E Qulligan (Feakle); J Browne (Ballyea), N O’Connor (Newmarket-on-Fergus), S Morey (Sixmilebridge); J Colleran (St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield), J Shanahan (Sixmilebridge), G O’Connell (Ballyea); C Galvin (Clonlara), T Kelly (Clonlara); E Enright (Kilmaley), C O’Connell (Clonlara), P Duggan (Clooney/Quin); S O’Donnell (Éire Óg), O Hickey (Meelick), A Cunningham (Wolfe Tones).
S Hassett (Drom-Inch); J Bourke (Moycarkey-Borris), J Meagher (Loughmore-Castleiney), J Peters (Kilruane McDonagh’s); T Hamill (Killea), J Forde (Silvermines), C Barrett (Holycross-Ballycahill); E Fennelly (Mullinahone), B Maher (Kilsheelan-Kilcash); P Ralph (Moycarkey-Borris), D McCormack (Borrisoleigh), J McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney); S Cahill (Thurles Sarsfields), L McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), C Horan (Mullinahone).