Hurling fans have been licking their lips all week as Tipperary and Galway do battle this Sunday. This is the fourth year in a row that we’ve seen this fixture and we’re yet to be disappointed. Ahead of the game, we select a combined XV between the two sides.
Galway have been favourites for this year’s championship for quite some time now. The Tribesmen have steamrolled their way through Leinster, however, might that be an issue come Sunday?
Tipperary on the other hand, have far more obvious issues. Having calmed rumours of unrest, the obvious flaw in this Tipp side is the full-back line. They will need to answer this ahead of this weekend’s game.
1. Colm Callanan (Galway)
Callanan has been consistently one of the best goalkeepers in the country for the past three years. The Galway number one has displayed excellent shot-stopping abilities and can also provide serious distance on his puck-outs.
The Kinvara clubman’s selection on this side has been made that bit easier due to Tipperary’s inability to settle on a permanent goalkeeper in 2017.
2. Adrian Tuohy (Galway)
Tuohy has been a revelation over the past two championships. Micheal Donoghue will be extremely pleased with his corner back’s performances so far again in 2017, and it would not be surprising were Tuohy to claim an All-Star this winter.
The full-back line is one in which Galway look significantly stronger than their opponents ahead of this weekend’s game.
3. Daithí Burke (Galway)
If there is one man in the country which Seamus Callanan may even have slight worries about marking it is Daithí Burke. The Galway number three held Tipp’s ace attacker scoreless from play last year and is a current All-Star in the full-back line.
While Burke is the model of consistency for the Tribesmen, Tipp appear unsettled at three between Tomás Hamill and James Barry.
4. Donagh Maher (Tipperary)
If there has been any positives for Michael Ryan’s last line of defence, it has been Burgess’ Donagh Maher. Maher missed out on Tipp’s defeat to Cork, but has performed well since his arrival to the side.
Tough opposition awaits him this weekend however.
Galway’s John Hansbury can consider himself unlucky not to be selected here, but Maher just slightly edges this battle.
5. Pádraic Mannion (Galway)
While Daithí Burke marshalled Seamus Callanan extremely well last year, Mannion will never forget his rough outing versus the same opponent. Since then however, Mannion has been given more freedom and it suits him perfectly.
Again, number five is a position in which Tipperary have struggled so far in 2017. We may see either Seamus Kennedy or Joe O’Dwyer line out here Sunday.
6. Ronan Maher (Tipperary)
The younger of the pair of brothers, Ronan Maher needs no introduction by now. No longer seen as a newcomer, Maher is one of the leaders of this side.
A strong performance against Clare saw Podge Collins withdrawn before the 70 minutes were played.
Gearoid McInerney has performed well for Galway at centre-back in 2017 and may well prove us wrong come Sunday, but Maher is one of the best in the business right now.
7. Pádraic Maher (Tipperary)
Keeping it in the family, Pádraic Maher is selected at seven. In a strange tactic, Clare seemed to land a lot of puck-outs Maher’s way in the early stages of their quarter final.
Needless to say, this was enjoyed by Padraig Maher, who’s marker, Cathal Malone was also substituted.
In truth, Maher is one of the best defenders of his generation and was never going to miss out on his place in this side.
8. David Burke (Galway)
Galway’s captain David Burke is one of the few hurlers potentially in line for Hurler of the Year in 2017. The St Thomas’ club hurler has been one of the most consistent hurlers in the country for the past three seasons.
Midfield is a section of the field in which Tipperary have struggled in 2017. Michael Breen, Noel McGrath and Sean Curran have all partnered Brendan Maher so far.
9. Johnny Coen (Galway)
Making his name as a corner back, Johnny Coen’s performances saw him awarded Young Hurler of the Year in 2012. Now operating at midfield, Coen has been rejuvenated and is currently excelling in a partnership with David Burke.
Brendan Maher has been one of the best midfielders in the country for a number of years, but has struggled to hit top-form so far in this year’s championship.
10. Joseph Cooney (Galway)
One of the more surprising top-performers of this year’s championship, Cooney has been a revelation for Galway in 2017. Striking five points from play in this year’s Leinster final, Joseph Cooney could be an All-Star if he can keep up this form.
Dan McCormack has hurled well for Tipperary this year considering his side’s struggles, however Cooney is in the form of his life and was impossible to leave out.
11. Joe Canning (Galway)
What can be said about this man that hasn’t already been said before? For the best part of ten years, Joe Canning has dominated the game of hurling. Now free from the shackles of full-forward, Canning is pulling the strings from centre-forward these days.
While Bonner Maher’s importance to his side cannot be understated, but the Tipperary workhorse has yet to hit top-form in 2017.
12. Noel McGrath (Tipperary)
It’s hard to believe that it’s nine seasons ago that Noel McGrath burst on to the senior inter-county hurling career. Young Hurler of the Year in 2009, the Loughmore-Castleiney club hurler is perhaps the most efficient hurler in the game of hurling.
Galway have mainly chosen Niall Burke to operate in this position so far in 2017, and while Burke is a fine hurler, McGrath gets the nod here.
13. John O’Dwyer (Tipperary)
Bubbles is just one-third of one of the most lethal full-forward lines to ever play the game of hurling. Now operating as something of a playmaker, John O’Dwyer has contributed massively to keeping this Tipp side in the 2017 championship.
Conor Whelan has been impressive this summer and may yet find himself awarded Young Hurler of the Year, but O’Dwyer just edges this clash.
14. Seamus Callanan (Tipperary)
The best forward of this decade bar none. Drom and Inch’s Seamus Callanan really struck top form in 2014 and has consistently been the most devastating forward in the championship ever since. It truly is a mystery how he has yet to be awarded Hurler of the Year.
Conor Cooney has been absolutely outstanding in this year’s championship, but it would be a crime to leave Callanan out of any team.
15. John McGrath (Tipperary)
Younger brother of Noel, John exploded onto the scene in 2016 with an outstanding championship seeing him awarded an All-Star. Arguably Michael Ryan’s best performer in this year’s championship, McGrath has kept up the form that made him a star.
Cathal Mannion missed out on the Leinster final triumph of Galway, though it must be said, this Tipperary full-forward line is too good to be broken up.
Kevin Daly, Pundit Arena
Check out this week’s episode of The 16th Man where we looked ahead to the clash between Tipperary and Galway, as well as looking ahead to all the weekend’s football action.