COLM BONNAR fears his Wexford side could face a massive backlash from his native Tipperary in today’s All-Ireland qualifier clash at Semple Stadium.
After going close to smashing Kilkenny’s bid for a Liam MacCarthy four-in-a-row last September, many fancied Liam Sheedy’s charges to go even one better in this year’s campaign. But Tipperary were forced to take the back-door route after being overwhelmed by Cork by a 10-point margin at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on May 30.
“Tipperary are still smarting from that defeat, and so we could be on the end of a major backlash,” said Wexford boss Bonnar, whose charges lost to Galway in the Leinster quarter-final the day before the Premier County tumbled to the Leesiders.
“The players and team management have taken a lot of stick since the Cork game, and they’ll be fired up to redeem themselves in front of their own supporters. Despite the disappointment of the loss to Cork, Tipperary will still feel that there’s an All-Ireland there to be won, and that they haven’t become a bad team overnight just because of one bad result. So they’ll be hugely motivated to get a winning run going against us, and all of this is going to make our task at Thurles on Saturday even more difficult.”
In an additional comment on tomorrow’s contest, the former Tipperary midfield ace argues that his side could scarcely have received a more difficult draw for their opening qualifiers’ fixture.
“At the beginning of this year, the majority of hurling people were saying that the two teams most likely to put it up to Kilkenny in the All-Ireland were Tipperary and Galway.
“So that gives you an idea of what a tough task we face at Semple Stadium.”
A further element of spice has been lent to tomorrow’s encounter by virtue of the fact that it’s the first time that Bonnar has come face to face with the county he starred with for so many years.
“Of course, we were in Division Two of the league for the past two years, so we never had a match against Tipperary. And likewise our paths never crossed in the championship. Under normal circumstances, I’d like to see Tipperary do well in a game.
“But Saturday is a totally different scenario. I have a job to do with Wexford, and that’s to try my utmost to help Wexford beat Tipperary. So we’ll be going up to Thurles fully determined to put Tipperary out of the championship. On this occasion, there’s no luxury of the back door. It’s a winner-takes-all situation, and so it’s a real pressure pot for both teams.”
To say Tipp were shocked by their loss to Cork in the Munster first round would be understatement. Since, they have regrouped.
Wexford are smarting themselves after their loss to Galway, a poor final quarter costing them dearly when they went from being three points behind to losing by 11; worse, they also lost their top scorer Diarmuid Lyng in the final minutes to a straight red card, and his absence is huge.
Can’t see them staying with Tipp, not in Thurles and not in the mood Tipp will be in.
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