New Tipperary senior hurling manager Eamon O’Shea has predicted Lar Corbett will rediscover his best form in the blue and gold shirt in 2013.
O’Shea was coach when Tipp won the All-Ireland title in 2010 when the Thurles Sars hitman bagged a hat-trick in the final against Kilkenny.
Corbett, 31, stunned the hurling world earlier this year when he quit the Tipperary squad, before returning before the Munster SHC quarter-final against Limerick in May.
But Corbett finished the 2012 championship campaign scoreless – and became embroiled in that bizarre sideshow with team-mate Pa Bourke and Kilkenny pair Tommy Walsh and Jackie Tyrrell in the All-Ireland semi-final.
“He’s had a very good run with Thurles and I’m hoping when we do eventually see Lar, which hopefully is after they win an All-Ireland club final on March 17, that he’ll come back ready and fresh to hurl,” O’Shea said.
“He’ll be treated the same as any other player – every player is the same in this set-up. I’m looking forward to working with him again.”
O’Shea, speaking to journalists last evening at the Horse and Jockey, flanked by selector Michael Ryan and coach Paudie O’Neill, revealed an official 26-man panel for the 2013 season – and all of the Premier County’s long-serving stars are back on board.
O’Shea has been boosted by the return of established names such as goalkeeper Brendan Cummins, 2010 All-Ireland winning captain Eoin Kelly, full-back Paul Curran, forward John O’Brien and 2010 Hurler of the Year Corbett.
The squad includes two newcomers – John Meagher of Loughmore-Castleiney and Killenaule’s John O’Dwyer – who will be given the chance to impress during the Allianz Hurling League.
An extended panel of nine players has also been announced, featuring Clonoulty-Rossmore pair John O’Neill and John O’Keeffe, who were members of the full squad last season.
Jason Forde, who enjoyed a memorable 2012, is also on the extended list, along with O’Shea’s Kilruane MacDonagh’s clubmate Seamus Hennessy, a 2010 All-Ireland senior and U21 medallist who made a long overdue return from injury.
Forde, a former Tipperary minor captain, won an All-Ireland colleges medal with Nenagh CBS this year, made his U21 inter-county debut and recently inspired Silvermines to AIB Munster intermediate club glory.
Thomas Hamill, a member of Tipp’s 2012 All-Ireland minor winning team, has also been included in the extended list of players, who will look to break through to the main squad.
“When you’re on a management team, you’re all the time hoping you’ve got the best players available to you and certainly, with all of those players [experienced] available to us and competing for places, it’s good,” said O’Shea. “All of the things that experienced players give us, we have. I’m very happy that all of those players are there, really happy.”
Reflecting on Tipp’s 18-point defeat by the Cats, which represented the Premier County’s heaviest championship defeat since the late 1800s, O’Shea admitted that looking on in a watching brief was a sobering experience.
“It’s not nice, particularly in Tipperary, where hurling means quite a bit here,” he explained. “It means more, sometimes, than life itself.
“Everyone’s affected when the team doesn’t perform the way we want it to perform. I understand that. It’s important therefore that the team understands that. It means so much to us, it’s deep set into us. Some call it tradition but it’s a bit more than tradition – it’s part of our life. And therefore, we’re bound to be hurt when we lose. I was no different.”
And O’Shea acknowledged Tipp will start the new year in the chasing pack looking to make up ground on 2012 All-Ireland finalists Kilkenny and Galway. But he expressed huge belief in the ability of a talented group of players at his disposal and backed them to bounce back strongly from the scarring experience of last August.
“Some days you’ll get a result that is not an accurate reflection of the ability of the team but it’s an accurate reflection of the game that was played. Tipp were in that game [Kilkenny] until half-time, they were leading at half-time. The second half went a particularly different way and the team ended up getting beaten.
“But is that an accurate reflection of the team and the belief that we have in them? No. The reality at the moment is that we are behind two teams – the data tells us that we’re behind Kilkenny, and we’re behind Galway. We have to catch up.”
Tipperary senior hurling panel 2013: B Cummins, D Gleeson, D Maher, P Stapleton, P Curran, M Cahill, J Meagher, T Stapleton, C O’Brien, C O’Mahony, Pádraic Maher, B Maher, J Woodlock, G Ryan, S McGrath, J Ryan, Patrick Maher, N McGrath, L Corbett, P Bourke, J O’Dwyer, E Kelly, S Callanan, S Bourke, J O’Brien, B O’Meara.
Nine-man extended panel: S Curran, J Forde, T Hamill, T Hammersley, M Heffernan, S Hennessy, J O’Keeffe, J O’Neill, A Ryan.
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