Tipperary U21 hurling manager William Maher is hopeful his team can feed off the momentum generated by Sunday’s hugely emphatic Munster final victory.
The county’s U21 hurlers welcome All-Ireland champions Limerick to Semple Stadium for this evening’s Munster semi-final and with the visitors’ starting team containing 12 players who featured in last September’s All-Ireland win, Maher will play on whatever bit of assistance is going.
“Supporters in the county are really, really happy after last Sunday as the way Tipp played and the margin of victory were just so encouraging.
“We will try and take a lot from that performance,” said Maher, who served as selector to the last Tipperary team to achieve success at this grade back in 2010.
“We are in a very unusual situation where Limerick are 2/1 favourites coming to Thurles with 12 of their All-Ireland winning team. This Limerick group would have played more in Thurles than a lot of our fellas. We don’t train there so I wouldn’t say we have an advantage from it being in Thurles.”
And while cognisant of the threat posed by John Kiely’s side, Maher is also well aware an U21 team laden with household names on the inter-county scene doesn’t necessarily guarantee provincial or All-Ireland silverware. Just look at the Waterford class of 2015, or, indeed, the Kilkenny team shocked by Westmeath earlier this year.
“The nature of the competition is one night and it is knock-out hurling so it tends to bring out the best in both teams.
“Having been previously involved in 2010, we were down in Cork for the first round of Munster. Cork were three points up in injury time and we got a penalty which we converted to draw level. We subsequently went on to win the All-Ireland. U21 is all on the night.
“You can be loaded with senior stars, but it is the team that shows the most hunger and desire to win, ultimately, will get the performance and the result.”
Maher is also serving as Tipperary intermediate manager this summer and used the competition to ensure his players weren’t coming in cold this evening.
“It has been a help. The intermediate gave us two high-level matches against Cork and Limerick.
“It gave us a good insight into how fellas react under pressure on the big day. It also meant lads got championship game-time.”
He added: “The attitude and spirit we have built over the last while have been excellent, but when you have someone like Limerick on the horizon, with the star studded team they have, it focuses your mind very clearly and our lads understand the magnitude of this fixture.
“They are really, really up for it and they can’t wait to get stuck in.”
The Tipperary team features eight players from the side which fell to Limerick at this very hurdle last year, included in that are senior panelists Brian Hogan, Barry Heffernan and Ronan Maher.
E McNamara (Doon); M Casey (Na Piarsaigh), R English (Doon), S Flanagan (Feohanagh); C Ryan (Pallagreen), C Lynch (Patrickswell), A La Touche Cosgrave (Monaleen); D O Donovan (Doon), P Ryan (Doon); R Lynch (Na Piarsaigh), B Nash (South Liberties), D Dempsey (Na Piarsaigh); P Casey (Na Piarsaigh), T Morrissey (Ahane), S Flanagan (Feohanagh).
B Hogan (Lorrha-Dorrha); P Maher (Kilsheelan-Kilcash), T Fox (Éire Óg Annacarty), D Sweeney (Kiladangan); B Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg), R Maher (Thurles Sarsfields), S Ryan (Sean Treacy’s); B McCarthy (Thurles Sarsfields), A Coffey (Nenagh Éire Óg); J Shelly (Mullinahone), S Quirke (Moyle Rovers), J Keane (Golden-Kilfeacle); C Lanigan (Thurles Sarsfields), M Russell (Lattin-Cullen), W Connors (Kiladangan).
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