MICHAEL ‘Babs’ Keating has predicted his native Tipperary will suffer another hammering at the hands of Kilkenny in the NHL final.
Keating managed many of the current Tipp players as recently as 2007 when his latest and, according to himself yesterday, final spell in charge of the county ended. But it didn’t stop him from pointing out their current frailties and revealing his belief they’ll suffer up to a 13 points beating in the league decider.
Tipperary are champions and have shown decent form in returning to the final under manager Liam Sheedy. But the one blot on their copybook is the heavy Round 4 loss to the Cats, which Keating predicts will be replicated on May 3.
Specifically, Keating claims Sheedy is still short five players — four forwards and a midfielder — from creating the type of team he’d need to challenge Kilkenny.
“I said all along that for Tipperary to succeed this year they have to find four new players in the forward line that were going to make it — I haven’t seen that happen,” said Keating, who was at the GAA Museum in Croke Park to promote their Legends Tour series.
“They have to find a new centre-field man, I haven’t seen that happen. The backs might get away with it but they need five players and at the end of the day that’s 33 and a third per cent of any team. I haven’t seen five players that I’d have confidence in to match JJ Delaney or Brian Hogan or Tommy Walsh or Noel Hickey or Mick Kavanagh, I haven’t seen those around.”
Both sides have final round matches to complete this weekend with Kilkenny facing Dublin and Tipperary up against Limerick but are already through to the final regardless of the results.
“I think Tipp will be lucky to contain them to 12 or 13 points,” continued the former Offaly and Laois manager, who claimed it’s not just Tipp who’ll fall short of the Cats this year.
“I said two years ago Kilkenny were eight points superior to any other county team out there. I think I repeated that last year. I have to reconsider this year and suggest that Kilkenny are probably 12 or 13 points better than anyone.”
He added: “We won two (minor) All-Ireland’s and were the county that everybody perceived were the up and coming county but yet (Seamus) Callinan was only a sub on that minor team and he’s the only one that has come through,” claimed Keating who managed Tipp to two All-Ireland’s.
“It’s hugely disappointing but then when I think of the ‘50’s and ‘60’s when we had great minor teams as well ll only one or two came through in that period. Players like Donie Nealon never played minor.”
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