Kilkenny legend Jackie Tyrrell claims Tipperary won’t retain the All-Ireland hurling title without axed defender Cathal Barrett.
The All-Star corner-back has been cut from the panel for a breach of team discipline.
The development follows Tipp’s surprise Munster championship defeat to Cork, a game in which the 23-year-old Holycross-Ballycahill man picked up a knee injury.
Barrett was already set for a period on the sidelines though boss Michael Ryan still moved ahead with a public statement the player had been removed from the panel.
Tyrrell described it as a ‘gamble’ given the team’s dip in form and what he described as a lack of cover in the area.
The nine-time All-Ireland winner with Kilkenny said his gut instinct is Barrett will be back at some stage in the Championship, arguing that a successful title defence would be impossible without him.
“I don’t think they would win an All-Ireland without Cathal Barrett, I don’t think they could,” said Tyrrell. “Looking at Galway now, and the strength of their forwards, you need all your big guns there. Now one man that has really impressed me is Donagh Maher, I was very impressed with him during the league and I know he picked up a hamstring injury.
“But he could potentially cover there and could potentially play. I’ve a lot of time for him but there’s also not too many Cathal Barretts growing on trees in Tipperary.”
Tyrrell, who spent a portion of his glittering career in the full-back line, like Barrett, described the Tipp man as the heartbeat of their last line of defence.
“Oh he’s super, he’s a shut-down man in there,” continued Tyrrell. “I know the last couple of games he’s probably struggled a small bit but he’s their best corner-back, he’s an All-Star. They’ll really need him when it comes to the big games and when it comes to nailing down top corner-forwards, Cathal Barrett is your man for that. He’s aggressive and he offers so much to that Tipperary team, especially with James Barry there who’s not a natural full-back as well. He gives that security and it’ll be interesting to see how it unfolds.”
Tipperary County Board secretary Tim Floyd told Tipp FM yesterday the door remains open to Barrett for a possible return.
“These kind of things make headlines unfortunately but, still, it’s a matter between the county management and Cathal Barrett,” said Floyd.
“They set down the standards and they expect all of the players to follow the guidelines. “It’s unfortunate in this case Cathal was out injured and he let his guard down. But I presume they’ve left the door open to him, that’s it not a fait accompli. It’s like the child being put sitting in the corner for a while.”
Tyrrell said he too could envisage a recall for Barrett, if his attitude is right.
“I’d say you could see him back, I’d say you could alright,” said Tyrrell.
“It depends on what kind of way he reacts to it. If it was me, and I did something, you’d just come out and hold your hands up but, look, it depends, if this happened before and if he’s got a warning or two warnings then that’s different. If it’s a one-off thing, I think we could see him again.”
Tyrrell said he’s at a loss to explain how things have spiraled so dramatically for Tipperary in the last month or so, losing huge games to Galway and Cork.
“It’s hard to know when you’re not in the group but they were going so well,” he said, referencing Tipperary’s form being losing heavily to Galway in the league final.
“I don’t think one performance would have shocked them so much as to drain every bit of confidence out of them and for them to start doing silly things. I don’t know, it’s probably one for a Tipperary man to answer, not a Kilkenny man.”
Tyrrell played out all of his Kilkenny career under the management of Brian Cody and can’t remember a single player being removed from the panel for disciplinary reasons, certainly not one that was made public anyhow.
“I suppose we were blessed with great leaders and Brian created an environment where it was very much ‘over to you now lads, the responsibility is with you as regards preparation and looking after each other’,” said Tyrrell.
“When you come into an environment where you see some of the greatest hurlers in the game and how they prepare and what they do, you just kind of mould into that and there was none of that messing, anything like that never went on.”
Littlewoods Ireland ambassador Jackie Tyrrell was speaking at the launch of their sponsorship of the GAA All-Ireland senior hurling championship.
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