On Sunday, the Munster Senior Hurling Championship will get underway and we look at the key players to look out for in the upcoming battle between Tipperary and Cork.
Undoubtedly, the beginning of the Munster Championship is a date that many GAA fans look forward to, but this year it is particularly interesting. The rivalry and history between Tipperary and Cork is unbelievable; games between the pair can be traced back to 1888 and to date it’s the most common Munster Championship pairing.
Cork lead in the Munster Championships roll of honour with 51 titles, while the Premier County follows closely with 42 championship victories. In recent times though, Tipperary have been the dominant force in Munster and have been particularly consistent in attaining victory against the Rebels. Notably, since 2007 Cork and Tipperary have played each other in eight Munster Championship meetings but Tipperary have been victorious in seven of those ties.
For Cork to cause a shock against the Premier, they will certainly need a big team performance, but here we look at some of the players from both sides who must play well in order for them to advance into the semi-final stage.
It’s a well-known fact now that goals win games and Tipperary have certainly incorporated this ideology and in turn, become the benchmark for counties in contemporary times. Recently, against Wexford in the League semi-final, we witnessed the attacking talent of Tipperary in full show and how they have the ability to kill a game in a matter of seconds.
As Tipp have the attacking prowess of John McGrath, John O’Dwyer and Seamus Callanan, this means that Anthony Nash will need to be in top-form and his display will undoubtedly influence the game. If he manages to keep Tipperary goalless that may prove influential on Sunday.
Although Lehane is still only 24, he has quickly become one of the Rebels’ main players in attack and undoubtedly he will be a key player on Sunday. It’s likely that Lehane will be marked by the ever-consistent Padraic Maher and if he wins that battle in the attack, the Rebels may fancy their chances. For Cork to win, they will need Lehane to remain a constant threat throughout the game and for him to force the umpires to raise a number of green or white flags.
The St Finbarr’s clubman is full-back on Sunday and with that will come arguably the test of his life. He will be set with the task of marking either one of Tipperary’s tallismen, namely, John McGrath or Seamus Callanan. In this year’s league campaign, McGrath’s scoring accumulated to an impressive 5-27 while Callanan averaged nine points per game with a total of 4-34. If Cahalane stops one of those from playing well, that will be a momentous step in the right direction for this Cork team.
John Mc Grath
In 2017, John McGrath has been a completely new player and has brought a new dimension to the Tipperary attack. The Premier County will be hoping that he will continue his sublime form on Sunday, and if he does they will certainly fancy their chances.
Aged just 22, McGrath has an unbelievable career ahead of him and has already placed down his own marker on Michael Ryan’s team sheet. As mentioned, he has scored 5-27 in this year’s League campaign while also shining for the University of Limerick in the Fitzgibbon Cup beforehand. If Tipperary are to continue their success in 2017, they will need John McGrath to continue to perform at the best of his ability.
John O Dwyer
It feels like Bubbles has been around a long time, but aged just 25 he is at the prime of his hurling career. The Killenaule man has been influential for Tipperary over the past number of years, and on Sunday they will need him to continue asserting his influence.
He was replaced against Galway in the League final, but he responded two weeks ago after he rescued his club team in the dying moments to give them the win in their opening game of the Tipperary Senior Championship. On his day he is an unstoppable force, which was proven in last year’s All-Ireland final after he scored 1-5 with 1-4 of that coming from open play and was instrumental in blowing the Cats away.
In 2016, Ronan Maher was pivotal in defence for Tipperary and was arguably unlucky to miss out on the Young Hurler of the Year award at the end of the season as he remained instrumental throughout Tipperary’s season of success. He was a rock in defence, a huge player and a welcome addition to the Tipperary team. Undoubtedly, the Premier locals will be hoping he will continue his consistency in the Munster Championship.
The Premier County will be hoping that he keeps one of the young-guns of the Rebels forward cohort under close-eyed control.
Jason Redmond, Pundit Arena
Make sure to check out our big-game preview in The 16th Man podcast, as we hear from Padraic Maher and Diarmuid O’Sullivan.