All-Ireland SHC quarter-final
Tipperary v Dublin
Sunday: Semple Stadium (4pm)
Referee: Brian Bavin (Offaly)
Eamon O’Shea is wary of the Tipperary presence in the Dublin camp ahead of Sunday’s All-Ireland SHC quarter-final in Thurles.
Tipperary manager O’Shea suspects coach Tommy Dunne, selector Richie Stakelum and forward Ryan O’Dwyer have the inside track on their native county.
O’Shea believes the trio’s considerable levels of inside knowledge will present his players with a new challenge to consider. And O’Shea still rates Dublin as “top contenders” for All-Ireland glory, despite their comprehensive defeat at the hands of Kilkenny in the Leinster final.
O’Shea said: “They’re Leinster champions from last year, were in the All-Ireland semi-final and unlucky not to get to the final. They’re top contenders. They have beaten Wexford this year, who are now the form team, and in Wexford Park.
“They know us very well and have very prominent Tipp men in Tommy Dunne, Richie Stakelum and Ryan O’Dwyer. They probably know our style very well, but, for us, this is the biggest game of the year in terms of being on our game. It will take a really good performance for us to get through. We expect a mighty battle.”
O’Shea revealed Conor O’Mahony is again a major doubt for the weekend fixture.
Defender O’Mahony, 29, continues to struggle with a back problem that ruled him out of the qualifier wins over Galway and Offaly.
O’Shea confirmed: “Conor will be 50-50 in terms of whether he will be involved. He played a bit on Sunday in a bit of a match but he’s going from session to session. His back is an ongoing problem there.
“Niall O’Meara is definitely out and Liam McGrath is not available.”
O’Shea is expected to go with an unchanged team for Dublin’s visit but acknowledged a number of players are champing at the bit as they look to force their way into the starting line-up. He explained: “We’re very competitive in training and that’s a credit to the guys who maybe didn’t start the last day and came in. There’s really good competition.”
O’Shea hinted six-time All Star Eoin Kelly, captain of the 2010 All-Ireland winning team, will feature again after scoring a point when he came off the bench against Offaly.
He said: “Eoin is a huge leader, Paul Curran the same. All the guys are pushing and understand what it takes to win at this level. It was great to see Eoin come in and everybody was delighted for him, because of how much he’s valued in the squad. Eoin will have a role to play, hopefully, on Sunday, as well as whoever else is asked to play. I think that leadership is huge.”
Having not tasted a championship win in charge until that dramatic come-from-behind victory over Galway, O’Shea admitted belief has come flooding back on the back of two successive wins. “In terms of when you win a game, it makes it easier to go back and believe what you’re doing is right. That’s important for the players. The difference between winning and losing is very slight. Once you get the bounce one way, it gives you the momentum to move on.
“When we won that game against Galway, it made it easier to win the next one. But that will only take you so far.”
And O’Shea stressed: “If you look at the performance against Galway and then Offaly, that (level of) performance will have to go up a notch to get us over the line. We weren’t happy with elements of the performance against Offaly, we were inconsistent. We let our performance drop and if that happens against Dublin, we’ll be in trouble. When we met them in the league, they went 0-9 to 0-3 ahead and if we allow that to happen Sunday, we’ll be in trouble.”
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