Former Tipperary manager Michael Ryan has warned those who think the county got the easier All-Ireland semi-final tie that Wexford probably feel the same.
The 2016 champions and Davy Fitzgerald’s Leinster title holders will meet on Sunday, a day after MacCarthy Cup holders Limerick go head to head with Brian Cody’s Kilkenny.
It’ll be Wexford’s first semi-final outing since 2007 and for that reason alone Tipperary supporters may feel it’s the best possible game to get at this stage.
“It’s a bit disingenuous to say that, isn’t it?” said Ryan, who guided Tipp to that All-Ireland win in 2016. “I think, to be fair, both Wexford and Tipp might suggest they’re both on the better side of the draw.
“Looking at the All-Ireland champions on the other side, who have the three available cups sitting at home right now, and they’re playing Kilkenny who had a really storming performance against Cork, Kilkenny really showed us signs that they were in really good health again, the things that we associate with Kilkenny were all on view.
“Jesus, their 10, 12, 15 minutes after half-time against Cork was just fabulous. I think they scored 1-8 to a point before Cork got more traction. So, to be fair, for both counties this weekend, I think both of them will feel they’re on the easier side, if there is an easier side, of the draw.
“But I think it’s irrelevant, I think the favourites for the All-Ireland are both on the other side and even after Sunday we’ll still say that. Whoever comes through between Limerick and Kilkenny, we’ll still say they are the favourites to close it out.”
Tipperary may have held that favourites mantle themselves if they hadn’t been so comprehensively beaten by Limerick in the Munster final.
Ryan described Tipp’s recent form as “flat” though reckons they retain the ability to win the All-Ireland if things click.
“I think we’re capable of winning this and I think equally if we’re off, even if we’re slightly off, we’ll be chinned and Wexford will go through in that situation,” he said.
It had been expected that Tipp would have a second title by now to go with their 2016 win though it never arrived and Ryan departed after they failed to advance beyond their group in Munster last year.
He agreed with the claim that Tipp haven’t coped well with being All-Ireland champions over the years.
“I think that is entirely fair,” he said. “Number one, we are not champions often enough. Start there. And our history of defending it has been really, really poor.”
He also maintained that many people don’t realise the fine margins that separate champions from those chasing them and said the reality is that Tipp weren’t that far ahead of everyone in 2016.
“The final might have given people a little bit of a sense that we were better than we were,” he said.