Darragh Mooney in goals, Alan Flynn, James Barry, and Cathal Barrett across the full-back line and Seamus Callanan, for now, on the bench — that’s Brendan Cummins’ assessment of how Tipperary should line up against Limerick on Sunday.
The former goalkeeper knows there are question marks hanging over who should be between the posts as Michael Ryan alternated between Mooney, Brian Hogan, and Paul Maher during their Division 1 campaign.
But following Darren Gleeson’s retirement at the end of last season, he now expects Mooney to get the nod.
“I think he’s going to have to stick with Mooney. If you look at Darren Gleeson or myself even when I took over, the first couple of games there are always going to be moments when you’re anxious and things might a little pear-shaped. But Mooney looks like he’s the man for the job.”
Barry came in for criticism after his second-half display against Kilkenny in last month’s Division 1 final but Cummins reckons he is still the man for the position.
“It’s not ideal but behind it all Tipp will have four games in the round robin and they’ll have players coming back up front and a lot of the problems are 80-90 yards away from our own goal. Teams are going to try and isolate James Barry, they’re going to put balls under our crossbar to test our goalkeeper. That’s just the way it’s going to be but you’d hope they’d be man enough to sort it out.”
Returning Barrett to the full-back line from midfield where he was trialled this past spring would benefit Barry, reckons Cummins.
As for the Callanan-Jason Forde full-forward debate, the Ballybacon-Grange man feels it is not a pressing matter.
“I don’t think that’s going to be an argument until Tipperary get into July. I don’t think Seamus Callanan is going to be right to play until round three or four.
“Think about it, you all think he’s going to come in and play but he’s not superhuman; he hadn’t hit a ball in anger for 10 or 11 months. There’s a bedding-in process and that’s why this league round robin will suit Tipperary to the ground.”
In what he describes as a “rats-in-a-barrel” Munster SHC format, Cummins anticipates Tipp will benefit from only playing in Semple Stadium and the Gaelic Grounds, even though he knows how difficult the latter venue is against the home side.
A defeat to Limerick, he feels, wouldn’t be the end of the world for Tipperary even if might be perceived as just that by some supporters.
“There’s no panic because they have to finish top three but try telling that to the man walking down the main street in Thurles: ‘My God, we could be relegated. Tipp are shagged’. And the narrative then feeds into your players. Perception is more important than reality sometimes.”
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