This Sunday sees the first of the 2017 All Ireland Hurling semi finals take place as defending champions Tipperary take on Galway.
For the third year in a row these two teams will meet at this stage of championship with one win a piece from those games.
Galway have been tipped by many to finally win their first Liam McCarthy title since 1988. The Tribesmen have had a season to remember so far with National League success where they comprehensively beat Tipp down at the Gaelic Grounds back in April and their championship has seen more silverware come with captain David Burke lifting the Bob O’Keefe cup after Michéal Donoghues men saw off Wexford in the Leinster final.
Tipperary manager Michael Ryan made it very clear of what he wanted from his side at the start of the year but The Premier men have had their shocks with the league final and then followed by a Munster quarter final defeat to Cork at Semple Stadium.
That defeat led to off pitch problems but they have gathered momentum through the qualifiers to find themselves back in the business end of things after wins over Westmeath, Dublin and Clare.
Last week Michael Ryan confirmed that he will be adding no further players to his current squad with many questioning beforehand if All Star corner back Cathal Barrett would be re-called after he was dropped for disciplinary action back in May.
Our reporter Daithí Boland spoke to two time All Ireland winner Brendan Cummins about whether or not the former goalkeeper thinks it’s a tough decision by Ryan to leave the Holycross man out
“It is, Mick Ryan has stood his ground on his decision and it’s an unusual experience here in Tipp for a manager to make a decision on disciplinary reasons and not go back on it”
“If I was involved with the Tipp panel I know I’d like Cathal there but mick knows his panel and we trust him as our manager”
These two teams have played out some thrilling games down through the years. The last two championship meeting’s coming to mind. In 2015, 3-09 for Tipp forward Seamus Callanan wasn’t enough to help The Premier men reach the final as a late Shane Moloney point edged the men in maroon over the line 0-26 – 3-16. Fast forward twelve months later and the two teams meet again at Croke Park this time Tipp coming out on top with goals from John McGrath and John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer proving decisive with the full time score ending 2-19 – 2-18.
After the league final between these two and the manner in which Galway won there’s a sense that this game could be the best yet with so much to play for
“Both teams will be looking to win this game and whatever has gone before has gone”
“I think Galway laid down a marker in the league final against Tipp with the intensity and aggression which I feel caught the Tipp players by surprise”
“You would expect Tipp on Sunday to make sure that doesn’t happen again”
“When you mention the past games I think the difference between the teams was Tipp made good decisions coming down the home straight with John and Bubbles, in 2015 it was Joe Canning who set Moloney up for that point and I don’t think there was anyone on the pitch who would have had as much ice through their veins as Joe to make that pass”
“So whoever makes those good decisions should come out on top”
Both forward lines on their day are capable of causing havoc to any defence so it will be key to see which defence can hold up best on the day. The Tipp defence has been seriously tested through this championship with a lot of worry heading into this game about their full back line which will have a big task of stopping the likes of on form players in Conor Cooney and Conor Whelan.
Tipp had a new full back line playing against Clare in the last round (2. Donagh Maher, 3. Tomas Hamill, 4. James Barry) but Brendan expect to see that changed this Sunday
“I think Michael Cahill will have to come in at corner back with James Barry returning to full back where he’s most comfortable”
Another man that is relatively new to championship action is goalkeeper Darragh Mooney. The Eire Og Annacarty man showed a few nerves the last day but as a former goalkeeper himself Brendan feels the more matches Darragh plays the more relaxed he will become
“You’re going to have that teething process people forget back in 1995 when I made my debut there was balls going in under my legs and you never thought then I was going to make anything but these players just need time to settle in”
When it comes to this level of sport advantages can be hard to come by but Galway do have a slight edge on Tipp in the fact that Michéal along with one or two other members of his back room have had experience of being involved with recent Tipp squads.
Despite that Tipp have players that no matter how much preparation is done for can still come up with the goods so it’s sure to be another enthralling encounter between these two rivals.
Callanan, Canning, Maher, Burke, McGrath, Cooney….. the list of players that will be on show this Sunday is one to really savour and no doubt from the minute the ball is thrown in fireworks can be expected.
To hear the full interview with Brendan Cummins listen to the audio below
Last 5 Championship meeting:
2016 All Ireland S/F: Tipp 2-19 – 2-18 Galway
2015 All Ireland S/F: Galway 0-26 – 3-16 Tipp
2014 All Ireland R1: Tipp 3-25 – 4-13 Galway
2010 All Ireland Q/F: Tipp 3-17 – 3-16 Galway
2005 All Ireland Q/F: Galway 1-20 – 1-18 Tipp
2017 Championship Results:
Munster Q/F – 1-26 -2-27 Cork
AI Qualifier R1 – 2-18 – 0-15 Westmeath
AI Qualifier R2 – 6-26 – 1-19 Dublin
AI Q/F – 0-28 – 3-16 Clare
Leinster Q/F – 2-28 – 1-17 Dublin
Leinster S/F – 0-33 – 1-11 Offaly
Leinster Final – 0-29 – 1-17 Wexford
Seamus Callanan 3-29
John McGrath 4-10
John O’Dwyer 1-14
Joe Canning 0-26
Conor Cooney 1-12
Conor Whelan 0-12