Tipperary under-21 hurling manager William Maher.
Michael Ryan and Liam Kearns, the respective Tipperary senior hurling and football managers, are eagerly looking forward to the draws for the All-Ireland qualifiers while under-21 hurling manager William Maher has released a provisional panel ahead of his side's Munster quarter-final against Limerick.
On Thursday, June 22nd the Tipperary team will face Limerick at the Gaelic Grounds in the quarter-final of the Bord Gais Energy Munster Under-21 Hurling Championship (throw-in 7.30pm) - the winner of that contest will host Clare in a home semi-final on July 12th.
Tipperary last claimed the provincial under-21 hurling title in 2010 and although the Premier County has appeared in three deciders since then (2012, 2013 & 2016) Tipp's search for the prestigious title now stretches back seven years.
In 2011 Tipperary beat Waterford (4-12 to 1-16), but lost to Cork (1-21 to 4-19) in the semi-finals. A year later Tipp beat Cork (0-18 to 0-17) and Limerick (1-16 to 1-11) before losing the final to Clare (1-14 to 1-16). 2013 saw Tipperary get the better of Limerick (2-18 to 2-11) and Cork (5-19 to 2-13), but, once more, Clare proved too strong in the decider (2-10 to 1-17). In 2014 and 2015 Tipperary lost opening round games to Clare (1-25 to 5-19) and Limerick (3-14 to 3-16) respectively. The 2016 campaign, however, was much more encouraging when manager William Maher guided his determined side to a 2-12 to 1-13 semi-final win over Limerick before losing out in the provincial final to a terrific Waterford outfit (0-15 to 2-19) at Walsh Park, Waterford.
At minor level three years ago Tipperary were beaten by Limerick (2-11 to 3-17) before shipping a fourteen-point defeat (0-12 to 1-23) against Clare in Ennis. Limerick beat Waterford in a replayed Munster minor final in 2014.
The fortunes of the under-21 hurling team are guided by manager William Maher (Ballingarry) and selectors John Devane (Clonoulty-Rossmore), Eamonn Buckley (Drom & Inch) and Liam O’Shea (Kilruane MacDonagh's).
Although the highly-talented Darragh Peters (Kilruane-MacDonagh's) has been ruled out of the clash with Limerick due to injury (dislocated shoulder) the Tipperary panel features plenty of talent and should not be discounted as a contender for provincial honours, especially with accomplished manager William Maher at the reins. Indeed, Tipperary supporters should watch out for the influence of players like Billy McCarthy, Paul Maher, Brian McGrath, Andrew Coffey, Cian Darcy, Ronan Teehan and Stephen Quirke on the side.
The provisional Tipperary under-21 hurling panel reads as follows: Brian Hogan (Lorrha-Dorrha), Ciaran Barrett (Clonmel Óg), Kevin Hassett (Drom & Inch), Emmett Moloney (Drom & Inch), Tommy Nolan (Drom & Inch), Michael Whelan (Carrick Davins), Gavin O'Halloran (Carrick Swans), Billy McCarthy (Thurles Sarsfields), Jack Derby (Thurles Sarsfields), Willie Tierney (Thurles Sarsfields), Paul Maher (Kilsheelan-Kilcash), Mark Kehoe (Kilsheelan-Kilcash), Brian McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), Ger Browne (Knockavilla-Donaskeigh Kickhams), Andrew Coffey (Nenagh Éire Óg), Conor Ryan (Nenagh Éire Óg), Cian Darcy (Kilruane MacDonagh's), Lyndon Fairbrother (JK Bracken's), Ronan Teehan (Gortnahoe-Glengoole), Niall Kenny (Borris-Ileigh), Dylan Walsh (Ballingarry), Rian Doody (Cappawhite), Jack Skehan (Holycross-Ballycahill), Enda Heffernan (Clonoulty-Rossmore), Chris McCullagh (Moycarkey-Borris), Robert Byrne (Portroe), Paul Ryan (Toomevara), Stephen Quirke (Moyle Rovers), David Gleeson (Ballinahinch), Pa Ryan (Newport) & Willie Connors (Kiladangan).
ALL-IRELAND HURLING QUALIFIERS
Tipperary will launch their All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship campaign on Saturday, July 1st when the defending champions take a step through the back door - the draw will be made on Monday, June 26th.
In all the eight counties beaten in the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the Leinster and Munster provincial championships compete in the All-Ireland hurling qualifiers alongside the Christy Ring Cup champions. In the qualifier preliminary round the Christy Ring Cup champions Carlow (guided by Colm Bonnar) meet Leinster quarter-finalists Laois.
Following that game the eight remaining teams contest round one of the qualifiers with three matches between Leinster and Munster opposition ensured where possible on Saturday, July 1st.
The four winners of those gamesface off in round two on Saturday, July 8th with a place in the All-Ireland quarter-finals up for grabs (Sunday, July 23rd) against the respective defeated provincial finalists.
As matters stand the eight teams in the hat for the first round of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship qualifiers are: Tipperary, Limerick, the loser of Cork-Waterford, winner of Carlow-Laois, Kilkenny, the loser of Offaly-Galway, Dublin and Westmeath. Tipperary can only be drawn against Kilkenny, Dublin, Westmeath or the loser of next Sunday's Leinster semi-final between Galway and Offaly.
If Tipperary and Kilkenny are drawn against one another in round one of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship qualifiers the venue will be drawn for. However, if Tipperary and Kilkenny met in round two the game would be played at a neutral venue.
ALL-IRELAND FOOTBALL QUALIFIERS
Following their one-point defeat at the hands of Cork on Saturday Liam Kearns' footballers will return to competitive action in the second round of the All-Ireland qualifier series in July.
The All-Ireland Senior Football Championship qualifiers are divided into sections A and B - teams are designated A or B depending on which half of their provincial championships they compete in. In all rounds of the qualifiers A teams play A teams and B teams play B teams.
Eight games take place in round one of the qualifiers - four round 1A games take place on June 17th, namely Waterford v Derry, Louth v Longford, Wicklow v Laois and Sligo v Antrim. Meanwhile four round 1B contests takes place on June 25th, namely Limerick v Wexford, London v Carlow, Westmeath/Offaly v Cavan/Monaghan and Armagh v Fermanagh.
Tipperary have been designated a section B team and therefore Liam Kearns’ men can only be drawn against a winner of the round 1B contests in round two of the qualifiers.
Eight games (four in round 2A and four in round 2B) take place in round two with the eight winners of these contests playing one another in round three. The four winners then face the respective four beaten provincial finalists in round four with a place in the All-Ireland quarter-finals up for grabs.
With ten players already ruled out through injury, Evan Comerford suspended and now Michael Quinlivan (ankle ligaments), Shane O'Connell (foot injury) and Liam Casey (ankle ligaments) added the lengthy injury list Tipperary manager Liam Kearns will be working hard during the intervening weeks to get his squad fighting fit for the remainder of the campaign.