There was a huge crossover of personnel when Tipperary secured an All-Ireland senior and U21 hurling double in 2010.
Ten players were members of both successful panels and it was a case of a rising tide lifting all boats as the two titles were claimed in the space of a week.
This time around, however, Tipp only have two senior panellists — Jason Forde and Thomas Hamill — in the panel for tonight’s Munster semi-final with Cork.
Manager Ken Hogan feels this could be an advantage, however.
“There was a high volume of club games until recently,” he said, “but that has eased off now and we’ve been able to prepare well as a group. I suppose U21 level often had the reputation of players not getting much time together due to other commitments but, thankfully for us, we have been able to call on most of the squad.”
Tipperary come into the game on the back of a 2-18 to 2-11 victory over Limerick at the end of May whereas this is Cork’s first outing of the campaign.
But Hogan is not attaching too much significance to that.
“It can happen that you get a benefit from the previous game,” he admitted, “but it doesn’t always work like that.
“You look at the senior Munster championship, Clare had beaten Waterford but then Cork came in and beat them.”
With the county’s senior and minor campaigns over, the U21 grade — and intermediate, in which Tipperary play Cork in Friday’s Munster final — represent their remaining chances of hurling silverware.
“The county definitely needs a shot in the arm,” Hogan said. “Everyone was disappointed to be knocked out in senior and minor so early, but I wouldn’t say it puts any extra pressure on us.
“The U21 can often take on a life of its own, that it’s a straight knockout competition can lead to fantastic entertainment and we’ve had some great games in recent years.”
In contrast to Tipp, Cork have seven senior squad members — Christopher Joyce, Conor Lehane, Jamie Coughlan, Patrick O’Mahony, Colm Spillane, Robert O’Shea and Alan Cadogan — in their starting 15 tonight.
For manager Ger Fitzgerald, the game provides a chance for them to get over Sunday’s Munster final loss to Limerick.
“It’s good that it’s coming so quickly,” he said, “I suppose that’s the situation for a lot of U21 players this time of year, they’re often out a few days after the seniors.
“It has definitely been a challenge trying to organise things in that regard, but there has been good communication between us, the clubs and senior management.”
Fitzgerald isn’t concerned by the fact they enter this game cold in terms of competitive outings.
“We knew from the start of the year that that’s the way it would be, we’d be waiting to play the winners of Tipperary and Limerick,” he said.
“Our schedule has been geared towards this date, and while it might be an advantage to play already, we’re happy with the preparations. The wait has been more of a factor for us as a management than for the players really, they were playing away with other teams the whole time.”
No mention of Cork at U21 level is complete without a cursory mention of the lack of an All-Ireland in the grade since the second of a two-in-a-row in 1998. It is naturally something that Fitzgerald is aware of, without being over-burdened by it.
“There’s not much we can do about how long it has been, but it’s obviously something that we’d like to sort out,” he said, adding that his job is not only to produce winning teams, but also to develop players that will be able to go on and play at senior level.
CORK: P Collins (Ballinhassig); C Spillane (Castlelyons), P O’Mahony (Midleton), D Lester (Bishopstown); D O’Mahony (Carrigtwohill), C Joyce (Na Piarsaigh), D Cahalane (St Finbarr’s); B Murray (Bishopstown), R O’Shea (Carrigaline); J Coughlan (Newtownshandrum), D Lordan (Courcey Rovers), C Lehane (Midleton); A Cadogan (Douglas), J Wall (Kilbrittain), B Hartnett (Midleton).
Subs: T Wallace (Midleton), S Murphy (Blackrock), C Barry (Castlelyons), K Kavanagh (Carrigaline), N Kelly (Mayfield), M Sugrue (Bandon), K Hallissey (Éire Óg), B Lawton (Castlemartyr), C Buckley (Na Piarsaigh).
TIPPERARY: D Mooney (Éire Óg Annacarty); Cl Barrett (Holycross Ballycahill), M Breen (Ballina), A Ryan (Toomevara); J O’Dwyer (Killenaule), T Hamill (Killea), S Kennedy (St Mary’s Clonmel); J Cahill (Kilruane MacDonaghs), B Stapleton (Templederry Kenyons); T Heffernan (Éire Óg Nenagh), J Forde (Silvermines), N O’Meara (Kilruane MacDonaghs); A McCormack (Thurles Sarsfields), B Walsh (Carrick Swan), L McGrath (Loughmore Castleiney).
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