Tipperary face Galway in the second All-Ireland Hurling Semi-Final on Sunday. At this point last year, Tipp were caught by the same opposition. Having impressed through Munster this year, Tipp look to be in a good position to gain revenge for last years loss.
1. Padraic Maher
This is the man who sums up the Tipperary hurlers. Playing well, Maher is the leading half-back in the country, but put the pressure on and he can become extremely erratic. Galway should be targeting the Tipp number seven early to see what type of day he looks ready to have at the office. He has played very well this year but has not been put under any sufficient pressure. This Sunday should be a big test of his temperament.
2. Ronan Maher
Like his brother, Ronan Maher has excelled at number six for Tipperary so far this year. But Tipp have faced teams playing sweepers in most games this year, leaving both Mahers almost as free men. One has to expect that Galway are going to do the opposite. Ronan Maher has been excellent with ball in hand, going forward. But he is yet to be put on the back foot. If Galway can put Maher running towards his own goal, it will be interesting to see how he reacts.
3. Michael Breen
Breen has received deserved plaudits this year, but this will be a big test. His main attribute has been his scoring and while it is the most important part of the game, a midfielder has more to do than attack. Colm Galvin hit 0-5 for Clare in the quarter-final against Galway, but David Burke and Jonny Coen totally dominated at midfield over the 70 minutes. Breen can’t just score, he must be prominent between the two 65’s.
4. Brendan Maher
The Tipp captain is one of the unsung heroes of this side. Breen grabs the midfield headlines for his damage on the scoreboard while Maher does the less pretty nit and grit around the middle. Galway destroyed Tipp at midfield in last year’s encounter and the Premier men will need to make this change. Should Breen attack too much, Maher will become even more important. His leadership will also be key.
5. John O’Dwyer
Seamus Callanan carried Tipp in last years game, never mind the Tipp forward line. Bubbles had a very poor outing despite having a great Munster campaign, therefore has a point to prove and huge room for improvement when facing Galway in Croke Park. He is not being spoken about too much as he was missing from the Munster final success through suspension. Bubbles could have a big say in this game on Sunday.