Tipperary legend Eoin Kelly has dismissed talk of the Premier County being the favourites to win the All Ireland Hurling Championship in 2019.
Liam Sheedy’s side have won two from two in the Munster Championship, scoring 4-58 so far, 4-49 from play.
They still have two games left to play in the round-robin series and despite getting knocked out in the provincial stages last year with virtually the same squad, optimism has once again risen in Tipperary with talk of them being potential All Ireland contenders both in and outside the county.
2010 All Ireland winning captain and Paddy Power GAA Ambassador, Eoin Kelly, has hastened to calm expectations saying that it is far too early to predict matters in May.
“I couldn’t justify Tipperary being favourites because this Championship is a marathon, not a sprint.
“Is anyone really going to win eight or nine matches on the trot to win an All-Ireland? I don’t think so. I wouldn’t be going as far as saying Tipp are favourites for the All-Ireland at all.
“In Munster, Tipperary aren’t qualified just yet, but they are nearly there.”
Despite his hesitation, Kelly has been very impressed with what he has seen from his county so far during the championship, especially their improved attitude.
“You can certainly see the application to a high work ethic in the last two games and that’s the first ingredient you look for. After that, the hurling will look after itself.
“It’s a bit like what Cork did to Limerick as well, they worked their socks off and the imagination sprung from there.
“The big thing for me is that Tipperary’s attitude seems to be right at the required standard of the top teams and with that comes the fluidity of their hurling.”
The Premier County face Clare in Ennis this weekend, the team that knocked them out of the championship last season through a late flurry of points.
Kelly suggests that the recent games between the sides have ignited the legendary Clare/Tipperary rivalry but backs his former team to come out on top in Cusack Park on Sunday.
“Clare are now the only team with a 100 per cent record at home since the new Munster Championship round-robin started.
“They won their two games at home last year against Waterford and Limerick, and every other team has now tasted a home defeat in Munster except them. It just tells how hard it is to go down to Cusack Park in Ennis and come out with a victory.
“Cork was a different story for Tipperary, as the spine of the team had won there in the past – even if it was before Páirc Uí Chaoimh was redeveloped. But, this is a different challenge altogether for Tipperary.were so close to getting to the All-Ireland final in 2018 and I get the vibe that they will only see progress in going all the way this year.
“Tipp can get a victory in Ennis, but it’s a hard ask. Leaving there with any kind of a result would be a good one. I reckon the Tipp/Clare rivalry is starting to brew again and I can’t wait for Sunday.”