Sunday will mark a new beginning when All-Ireland champions Tipperary take on Waterford IT in the Waterford Crystal Hurling Cup. New manager Declan Ryan takes charge of the team for the first time while Clonmel Sportsfield will host its first inter-county match since its re-development, with the throw-in timed for 2pm.
The panel only returned from their holiday to New York and Jamaica earlier this week and the line-up for Sunday is expected to be experimental.
Players who are lining out with their colleges in the same competition are unavailable while Padraic Maher and Michael Cahill are unlikely to feature, as they will be in action the previous day for Thurles Sarsfields in the delayed County U-21 Hurling semi-final against Arravale Rovers, a match, incidentally, that will also be played in Clonmel (1.30).
For all that, however, Declan Ryan, coach Tommy Dunne and selector Michael Gleeson will be anxious to get stuck into their new roles and begin preparations for the opening National League fixture, a re-match of last year's All-Ireland Final against Kilkenny, which will be staged under lights at Semple Stadium on Saturday evening, February 12th. Tipp will play Dublin on the following Saturday, 19th.
When he was appointed in November Declan was quick to point out that all teams were starting at the bottom of the pile in January, including the All-Ireland champions.
He said his priority would be to get the players in the best possible shape to represent the county and he's anxious to add to the huge amount of goodwill that exists for hurling in Tipp.
He said that the six players – Padraic Maher, Noel McGrath, Brendan Maher, Michael Cahill, Patrick 'Bonnar' Maher and Seamus Hennessy – who had won a Minor All-Ireland under his management four years ago would provide a good foundation this year's panel.
He also stressed that the more experienced players would have an important role to play too.
Meanwhile a Tipp colleague of Declan Ryan and Tommy Dunne's from the 1990s, Raymie Ryan, has been confirmed as the county's new Minor Hurling manager.
Raymie, who won a Munster Senior Hurling medal in 1993, succeeds Mark O'Leary. The Cashel man was in charge of the Tipp senior camogie team that won the All-Ireland in 2003 and 2004 and also guided Drom/Inch to the County Senior Hurling Final in 2007. He also spent a season with Newtownshandrum before managing the Clough-Ballacolla team that won the Laois County Senior Hurling Championship for the first time in 2009.
His selectors are Jimmy Dunne (Moyle Rovers), Ray Ralph (Moycarkey/Borris), Liam Flannery (Nenagh Eire Og) and team trainer Willie McCormack (St. Patrick's).