Leagues on the way.
By Noel Dundon (Tipperary Media)
A world of possibilities – that’s what each season brings and at the start of the different campaigns there is always great hope that silverware will come your direction by the end of the run.
So, as the Tipperary hurlers and footballers both enjoyed victories last weekend, the hope would be that those victories will continue to roll as the teams set off on the Allianz national league voyages to come. Tipperary need to get decent runs in both leagues – the footballers under new Manager Paul Kelly, need to get out of division 4 of the league in order to be testing themselves against better opposition.
But, if you don’t get out, then the opposition you are meeting remains your standard – not exactly conducive to good championship preparation, one would think.
So, the goal has to be for the footballers to win games just like they did against Limerick in Templetuohy on Sunday in the McGrath Cup and build on those victories. The first outing will be against Carlow in FBD Semple Stadium on January 27th and they will have clashes with Longford, London in Ruislip, Laois, Waterford, Wexford and Leitrim.
There will be very testing clashes in that line-up and Paul Kelly will be faced with the age-old problem – do you put out an experienced side and go for broke in a bid to win games, build confidence and get out of the division? Or, do you throw in new blood, perhaps without a lot of baggage, and hope that their youthful enthusiasm will be enough to also win games.
The likely scenario will be a mixtures of both – in other words Tipp will try to introduce some new faces alongside the familiar. Judging by their training at the present time, they are leaving no stone unturned and one would hope that they will get the rewards for their sterling efforts. Of course, as we know, it doesn’t always work that way, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a right lash at it again. And, that’s what the Tipp footballers will do again this year.
The hurlers’ victory over Kerry last weekend will not exactly set pulses racing, but at the same time it was an important step on the seasons journey. There is nothing to be gained by losing these matches and it represented a real chance to look at a few players. In fairness, a few really impressed with Gearoid O’Connor running up a big tally and Sean Kenneally showing that he is worth having around.
It will be interesting to see how many of last Sunday’s starters will be in the frame for the tricky trip to the Capital to play Dublin in the first round of the league in Parnell Park – that’s always a tough place to visit and if you come away with the points from there, you will have earned it.
It will be important for Tipp to start well in that February 3rd clash with the Dubs, because a week later Henry Shefflin will bring his Galway side to FBD Semple Stadium for a 4:00pm throw-in. If a scenario were to emerge where two games went against the side in succession, it would certainly raise eyebrows, even though both Dublin and Galway would be considered formidable opposition.
Speaking of formidable opposition, the small issue of the visit of the All-Ireland champions Limerick to Semple Stadium for the Dillon Quirke Foundation tournament game will attract a lot of attention. It might be described as a phoney war of sorts, but no matter how they might express their thoughts about it, neither John Kiely nor Liam Cahill would like to lose. So, an interesting game in prospect at the end of the month.
The prospects of a second all-Tipperary Dr. Harty Cup Final remains a possibility with Thurles CBS looking to get into back-to-back deciders, and Nenagh CBS seeking a breakthrough into the final for the first time since 2012 – they have yet to win a Harty but have lost on four occasions in 1990, 1996, 1997 and 2012. The semi-finals have to be played first, this coming weekend, and they will certainly occupy the thoughts of hurling enthusiasts in the Premier County.
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