The Munster SHC is more competitive than Leinster, Tipperary manager Michael Ryan has claimed, adding it will be particularly harsh on whichever two Munster counties exit the championship in mid-June.
After five rounds of provincial action this month and next, the fourth and fifth placed counties in Munster and Leinster will depart the scene, their season over by June 17.
“Survival will be the key word. It’s an unprecedented Munster championship,” Ryan said.
“It’s harsh that two will be gone by mid-June. It is particularly hard on the five teams in Munster such is the standard, because I genuinely think there is nothing between us.
“I would long since contend anybody can beat anybody in Munster. Only look back on our own history in Munster in the last few years and it’s choppy. You don’t do an awful lot wrong and you are on the wrong side of a result.
“Has Leinster been as competitive as Munster? I think not.”
Ryan took umbrage with the suggestion their league final defeat to Kilkenny showed up a mental fragility in his camp.
“We were the ones in the league final. I’ll point that out first. Realistically, there was 10 teams eligible to get there — we got there. Talk to the rest of them. I’m happy enough where we are at.
“Kilkenny did what they do best, play for 70-plus minutes. That is the single biggest feather in their cap that the rest of us strive for. They are the market leaders in that. And have been. On top of quality players — we all have quality players — that is the single biggest differentiator between Kilkenny and the rest of us.”
On the injury front, the Tipp manager expects Séamus Callanan to be available for their Munster SHC opener away to Limerick on May 20.
The three-time All Star missed their entire league campaign having underwent surgery on his back in late January to repair bulging discs.
The 29-year old lined out for his club, Drom & Inch, over the weekend, with Ryan yesterday declaring the full-forward is in “great shape”.
“I expect Séamus to be available. He’s healthy and that’s the main thing. The benefit of being 6’3 is you don’t put up weight or at least you don’t appear to.”
The news isn’t as positive where Michael Cahill is concerned, the corner-back hobbling out of Thurles Sarsfields’ championship game over the weekend with a hamstring injury.
“We need a definitive prognosis of how he is. We are hoping he got off in time. It never looks good when you see a guy going off putting ice on a hamstring. As long as it’s not a grade one. If it’s a little bit easier than that, then it’s okay. The key thing is that we get him back and get him back right.”
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