Tipperary have named an unchanged starting side for Sunday’s All-Ireland SHC semi-final clash with Kilkenny, but the major talking point is the inclusion of Toomevara’s John O’Brien at full-forward. O’Brien’s brother Thomas passed away earlier this week.
Although manager Declan Ryan and his backroom team have selected the same side which began the Munster fnal win over Waterford, there are positional switches up front.
Lar Corbett is named at wing-forward and Brian O’Meara selected in the corner. Given Corbett’s hat-trick of goals against Sunday’s opposition in the 2010 All-Ireland final, however, it would be odd if he didn’t spend at least some time in the full-forward line.
Also, while John O’Brien is named on the edge of the square, he was Tipperary’s main ball-winner in the air against Kilkenny in last year’s decider. He can expect to spend some time on Sunday in the half-forward line as a puck-out target for Brendan Cummins.
Patrick Bonner Maher continues at centre-half-forward, where he has impressed this year for the Premier County. In past encounters with the Cats, however, he has done well for Tipperary on the wing and may spend some time there on Sunday to reduce the influence of Tommy Walsh.
Tipperary’s defence and midfield are named in the same positions they’ve occupied so far this year, but there will be a lot of attention paid to how Kilkenny set up their attack on Sunday. It’s now a given that Henry Shefflin picks up the most inexperienced defender Kilkenny’sopponents field, which means Declan Ryan and his management team must decide whether or not to put their most accomplished back, Padraic Maher, to do a man-marking job on the Kilkenny star.
As a full-back Maher limited Shefflin in the 2009 final, though Tipperary lost, but he didn’t mark the Kilkenny talisman in the last two years, lining out at left-half-back.
TIPPERARY (SH v Kilkenny): B Cummins (Ballybacon-Grange); C O’Brien (Éire Óg, Annacarty), P Curran (Mullinahone), M Cahill (Thurles Sarsfields); T Stapleton (Templederry Kenyons), C O’Mahony (Newport), P Maher (Thurles Sarsfields); B Maher (Borris–Ileigh), S McGrath (Ballinahinch); P Bourke (Thurles Sarsfields), P Maher (Lorrha & Dorrha), L Corbett (Thurles Sarsfields); B O’Meara (Kilruane MacDonaghs), J O’Brien (Toomevara), N McGrath (Loughmore Castleiney)
KILKENNY (IHC v Galway): R O’ Neill(Kilmacow); M Phelan (Glenmore), A Walsh (Mooncoin),J Corcoran (John Locke’s); B Kennedy (St Lachtain’s), B Beckett (St. Lachtain’s), P Phelan (Emeralds); J Brennan (St Patrick’s, Ballyragget), P Murphy, (Blacks&Whites); N Walsh (Slieverue), R Hickey (Lisdowney), K Kelly (St Patrick’s, Ballyragget); R Walsh (Danesfort, capt), J J Farrell (Thomastown), G Alyward (Glenmore).
GALWAY (IHC v Kilkenny): J Ryan(Craughwell); D Connolly (Killimordaly), E Fahy (Killimor), G O’Halloran (Craughwell); P Hoban (Loughrea), D Burke (Turloughmore), D Burke (St Thomas); D Fox (Turloughmore), C Diviney (Ardrahan); M Dolphin (Portumna), P Mannion (Ahascragh-Fohenagh), G Lally (Gort); B Burke (St Thomas’), S Moloney (Tynagh Abbey Duniry), N Healy (Craughwell).
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