Tipperary and Galway go head-to-head this weekend in a mouth-watering clash at Thurles, writes Amy Forde.
Round one of the hurling qualifiers got underway at the weekend; Waterford and Offaly advanced to round two while Laois and Antrim’s respective championship campaigns came to an end.
Kilkenny and Galway also replayed their Leinster semi-final at the weekend and the Cats came out on top. Kilkenny will now meet Dublin in the Leinster final while Galway will travel to Thurles on Saturday evening for a meeting in the qualifiers with Tipperary.
It’s a sink of burst tie for both counties; the loser is out of the championship race while the winner advances. Both counties will be going hell for leather in order to stay in the race.
Galway manager Anthony Cunningham speaking after the Kilkenny game at the weekend said:
“Absolutely these games will stand to us. We’re sharp now, you can’t beat sharpness and pace and the competitive nature of these matches; we have two great battles under our belt with Kilkenny.”
When asked about Tipperary he commented,
“Look, it’s a huge challenge but we’re well up for it; we’ll be there fighting like lions the next day.”
Brian Cody speaking to the media about their weekend challenge with Dublin said,
“We won’t be making any excuses, Dublin are a top class team, they have strength in every way, but we’re not too bad, we’ll take them on and it has the makings of a great game. It’s not a question of training; we just have to recover for next weekend, recover physically and get ready mentally more than anything else.”
Tipperary meanwhile got knocked out of the Munster championship in their own back yard by Limerick on a scoreline of 2-18 to 2-16. It was Tipperary’s fourth successive championship loss and the first time Limerick have beaten Tipperary in Thurles in 41 years. Tipperary need the win as much as Galway do, if not more, on Saturday evening.
Current boss Eamon O’Shea said they lacked composure and were “disappointed in the performance” against Limerick. They were three points up in the closing minutes but relinquished the lead to Limerick who scored an unanswered 1-2. He clearly believes in his players and is trying to recreate the conditions which lead Tipperary to All-Ireland success when he was selector under Liam Sheedy in 2010.
In the last five championship meetings between Tipperary and Galway there hasn’t been much between the pair. Totalling up the tallies for these past five games the scoreboard rests on Tipperary 9-86 to Galway’s 10-82. That’s Tipperary’s 113 points to Galway’s 112; a one-point win for Tipperary. The biggest margin either side has beaten the other in championship hurling in the past five meetings was three points when Tipperary beat Galway in the All-Ireland final in 2001. The last meeting in 2010 seen Tipperary beat Galway 3-17 to 3-16 in a quarter-final in Croke Park.
The media attention in the past few weeks has been on Leinster and the qualifiers; with little being said about O’Shea’s team. They’ve had a five-week break from competitive games. Maybe this has worked to Tipperary’s advantage; there is a lot expected of Galway after their last two games.
Talk has focused in on Canning; how he only scored one point in the re-match with Kilkenny and how his placement on the field continues to baffle followers. There has been no mention of Conor Cooney and how he has stepped up. He scored 0-12 against Kilkenny last time out; one score less than TJ Reid (2-11). Eight from frees, one 65 and three from play.
Going into this Tipperary game Galway will be weary of the amount of frees they gave away to Kilkenny and their indiscipline. Perhaps starting with the team that seen them draw with Kilkenny and then later introducing Jonathan Glynn as an impact substitute will be an idea floating around Cunningham’s head during the week.
Tipperary reached the Allianz National Hurling League final where they met Kilkenny and were defeated by one point (1-27 to 2-25). O’ Shea will take solace in the fact they had a good league campaign. Another positive for Tipperary ahead of their clash with Galway is that six of his starting 15 got on the scoreboard against Limerick in the Munster semi-final. Lar Corbett and Denis Maher came on in the second half and scored a point apiece.
James Woodlock, who was out with an illness against Limerick, is set to return to the Tipperary squad for the qualifier clash. There is also speculation that Padraic Maher’s younger brother Ronan, who won Munster and All-Ireland medals with Tipperary in 2012, could be handed a championship debut.
Thurles is the venue for Saturday evening’s game and while Tipperary got beaten there against Limerick it is not a place associated with wins for Galway. They have lost seven out of nine championship games there, the most recent defeat to Clare last year.
One thing is for sure Saturday’s pairing is a make or break meeting for both teams; Galway are 26 years without an All-Ireland title while Tipperary haven’t won a championship hurling match since 2012. Sky Sports are set to broadcast the tie which will be the biggest game of the year so far for them and it looks like it’s going to come down to the wire.
Throw in at Semple Stadium, Thurles, is at 7.00p.m.
Amy Forde, Pundit Arena.