Semple Stadium in Thurles hosted the meeting of Clare and Tipperary on Saturday night.
Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy had reason to smile after his team handed fancied Clare an eight-point drubbing (2-16 to 1-11) at a rain-soaked Semple Stadium in Thurles on Saturday night last, but the Portroe man was coolness personified and was eager to put the victory in perspective in his after-match comments.
“Overall it was a very good performance. It was great to get out of the blocks with a win and we got some lovely scores during the game. It was a great start, but it is only the start,” Liam Sheedy said.
“It was the first round of the league and we were in Thurles and that has to mean something to us. We worked very hard and some of the scores were from the top drawer, but this is just a stepping stone for what is coming down the line,” he added.
Tipperary had made the running in the first half to go seven clear of Clare, but the introduction by Clare of three of their big guns for the second half saw them eat into the home side’s advantage. Then, in the space of a few minutes, the scales were tipped heavily in Tipp’s favour as Clare had Tony Kelly red-carded and the Premier County also hit them with two goals in three minutes.
The Portroe man acknowledged that Tipperary got the breaks.
“I was very pleased with our first half performance, but they were coming at us in the second half when the sending off (Tony Kelly) occurred. I did not see the incident, but it had a massive bearing on the game. And, then we got the two goals. After the defeat to Clare in the Munster League final we looked for a big performance and we got it from the lads,” Liam Sheedy said.
There is, however, no time for basking in glory. Next up is the visit to Limerick, the home of the All-Ireland champions, next Saturday.
Sheedy does not expect to see any immediate progress with regard to his lengthening injury list which features Brendan Maher, John McGrath, Michael Cahill, Billy McCarthy, James Barry, Jason Forde, Joe O’Dwyer and Paddy Cadell.
“Facing the All-Ireland champions at home in Limerick is not going to be easy, but then there are no easy matches in this league. We are away to Wexford after that, but that’s the great thing about the league - it is so competitive. It is high-powered stuff and, hopefully, we will get the chance to try a few more new lads,” he explained.
Liam Sheedy was also very happy with his new captain, Séamie Callanan.
“Look we are very fortunate in the leaders we have in the group. Páudie Maher (last year’s captain) was a great captain and Séamie Callanan also has excellent leadership qualities. So, we are very fortunate to have players like that. It is most encouraging, but really it is not about the captaincy, it is all about the group,” Liam Sheedy said.
On Saturday, February 2nd the Premier County are away to Limerick (throw-in is 7pm at Páirc na nGael, Limerick) followed by another away trip to Wexford on Sunday, February 17th before Liam Sheedy's men host Kilkenny at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Sunday, February 24th and conclude the group stage of the Allianz National Hurling League away to Cork on Sunday, March 3rd.
The league quarter-finals are scheduled to take place on the week-ending Sunday, March 10th, the semi-finals on Saturday, March 16th and the final on Sunday, March 24th.
Please note that a successful run to the final of the 2019 Allianz National Hurling League would involve Tipperary playing eight games in nine weeks.
Tipperary have, of course, lost the last two successive league finals to Galway and Kilkenny respectively while the Premier County have not won the competition since 2008. Tipp also lost the 2009, 2013 and 2014 league finals meaning that blue and gold supporters have now endured five successive defeats in Tipperary's last five league final appearances. Tipperary, however, still top the national league roll of honour with nineteen titles to their name while Kilkenny are second on eighteen.
Tipperary will launch their 2019 Munster Senior Hurling Championship campaign on Sunday, May 12th away to Cork.
TIPPERARY TRAINING PANEL
Liam Sheedy (Portroe) and his management team, which features Tommy Dunne (Toomevara) and Darragh Egan (Kiladangan), recently named the following pre-season Tipperary senior hurling training panel: Cathal Barrett (Holycross-Ballycahill), James Barry (Upperchurch-Drombane), Michael Breen (Ballina), Ger Browne (Knockavilla-Donaskeigh Kickhams), Robert Byrne (Portroe), Paddy Cadell (JK Bracken's), Jerome Cahill (Kilruane MacDonagh's), Séamus Callanan (Drom & Inch), Willie Connors (Kiladangan), Cian Darcy (Kilruane MacDonagh's), Colin English (Fr Sheehy's), Alan Flynn (Kiladangan), Jason Forde (Silvermines), Tom Fox (Éire Óg Annacarty-Donohill), Conor Hammersley (Clonoulty-Rossmore), Barry Heffernan (Nenagh Éire Óg), Barry Hogan (Kiladangan), Brian Hogan (Lorrha-Dorrha), Mark Kehoe (Kilsheelan-Kilcash), Séamus Kennedy (St Mary’s Clonmel), Brendan Maher (Borris-Ileigh), Donagh Maher (Burgess), Pádraic Maher (Thurles Sarsfields), Patrick Maher (Lorrha-Dorrha), Ronan Maher (Thurles Sarsfields), Mark McCarthy (Toomevara), Dan McCormack (Borris-Ileigh), Brian McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), John McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), Noel McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), Jamie Moloney (Drom & Inch), Jake Morris (Nenagh Éire Óg), Seán O’Brien (Newport), Joe O'Dwyer (Killenaule), John O'Dwyer (Killenaule), Killian O'Dwyer (Killenaule), Niall O’Meara (Kilruane MacDonagh's), Dillon Quirke (Clonoulty-Rossmore), Jason Ryan (Toomevara) and David Sweeney (Kiladangan).
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