Tipperary have opted not to compete in the Munster Senior Hurling League again this year but have released the list of challenge matches they will play instead.
The pre-season tournament is widely used by managers to experiment with developing talent and fringe players within their county.
Cork, Limerick, Clare and Kerry are competing in the tournament this year while Waterford are on their team holiday, having contested September’s All-Ireland final. The Rebels are seeking to retain the title they won this time last year.
The competition was formerly known as the Waterford Crystal Cup up until 2015 and had various colleges competing as well as the inclusion of The Premier County. However, since 2016 Tipp have excluded themselves from the action, instead working their own pre-season activities separately to their provincial rivals.
With the National League just three weeks away now, we will see counties gradually bringing their big guns back into action in order to swing preparations for summer hurling into full-flow through competitive matches with a full squad. Those players who have impressed and managed to establish a place in the panel for themselves in the aforementioned pre-season fixtures will be carried forward with the hope of seeing game-time in the League.
For those players looking to burst on to the scene in Tipp by catching they eye of Michael Ryan, challenge matches is where the audition takes place.
Instead of coming up against their inter-county counterparts before a ball is even pucked in the Spring, The Premier have opted to take on Slaughtneil, Dublin and Galway county champions Liam Mellows.
An experimental Tipp side overcame the high-flying Slaughtneil on a scoreline of 1-23 to 3-08 last weekend, where as they meet Pat Gilroy’s Dubs on Saturday at noon in Dr. Morris Park, Thurles. The Liam Mellows clash will be played in Lorrha on January 13.
Only time will tell which is more beneficial, keeping to yourself and organising your own pre-season challenge games, or competing week-in, week-out against inter-county opposition.