Aidan McCormack has retained his place on the Tipperary team. Photo: Eamonn McGee
Sunday’s Allianz National Football League Division Three clash between Tipperary and Longford has been called off and will be re-fixed for the week-ending Sunday, March 12th, but Sunday’s Allianz National Hurling League clash between Tipperary and Clare goes ahead on Sunday, March 5th in Semple Stadium, Thurles at 3pm.
The Tipperary team for this key game was named on Friday night: Darragh Mooney (Éire Óg Annacarty-Donohill), Joe O'Dwyer (Killenaule), James Barry (Upperchurch-Drombane), Donagh Maher (Burgess), Séamus Kennedy (St Mary’s Clonmel), Ronan Maher (Thurles Sarsfields), Tomás Hamill (Moyne-Templetuohy), Brendan Maher (Borris-Ileigh), Barry Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg), Steven O'Brien (Ballina), Niall O'Meara (Kilruane MacDonagh’s), Noel McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), John O'Dwyer (Killenaule), John McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), Aidan McCormack (Thurles Sarsfields).
Clare have also named their starting fifteen ahead of Sunday’s clash: Patrick Kelly, Oisín O'Brien, Cian Dillon, Seadna Morey, Brendan Bugler, Conor Cleary, Jamie Shanahan, David Fitzgerald, David Reidy, Aaron Cunningham, Cathal Malone, John Conlon, Podge Collins, Aaron Shanagher and Cathal McInerney.
Michael Ryan’s Tipperary hurlers will play their first competitive game at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Sunday since so famously winning the county’s 27th All-Ireland title in September. Tipperary remain unbeaten since losing to Clare in the 2016 Allianz National Hurling League quarter-final, but the Banner represent a real threat to the Premier County’s undefeated run.
Eleven months ago Clare, who are the defending league champions, beat Tipperary 2-13 to 0-18 in Cusack Park, Ennis while the sides have met seven times in the league during the past ten years. Tipperary have won four, drawn one and lost two of those encounters. During the past ten years Clare have played just 42 games in the top division so the Banner will be eager to maintain their league status and test themselves against the All-Ireland champions.
Tipperary face into this contest nursing a 100% league record having already beaten Dublin (1-24 to 1-8) and Waterford (1-18 to 0-15) away from home so Sunday’s encounter represents blue and gold supporters’ chance to welcome the All-Ireland champions home to Thurles for the first competitive game since the 2016 championship was brought to such a glorious conclusion.
Clare, however, are well capable of spoiling the party on Sunday. Although the Banner lost their opening league game to Cork (1-11 to 0-21) Clare then beat Kilkenny emphatically (2-19 to 0-12).
Although Conor McGrath is out injured Clare joint-managers Dónal Moloney and Gerry O'Connor can call on Aaron Shanagher who is in terrific and fired home 1-4 against Kilkenny; watch out too for Aaron Cunningham and Shane O’Donnell on the inside line with Cathal McInerney and John Conlon also in flying form.
Clare have opted to employ a progressive shape to their side this season. Cian Dillon is hurling at full-back and Oisín O’Brien is an unheralded man marker of real note in the corner while half-backs Brendan Bugler, Conor Cleary and David Fitzgerald are protected by the energetic Jamie Shanahan, David Reidy and Podge Collins.