Changes on the cards for Nowlan Park re-match

Changes on the cards for Nowlan Park re-match
Manager Eamonn O’Shea has confirmed that there will be changes to the Tipperary team for Sunday’s National Hurling League match against Kilkenny.

Manager Eamonn O’Shea has confirmed that there will be changes to the Tipperary team for Sunday’s National Hurling League match against Kilkenny.

“There will be changes but there would have been even if we lost (against Waterford in their opening game last weekend). We will have changes from game to game but this does give us a little bit of flexibility”, he said.

Sunday’s repeat of last year’s league final will be played at Nowlan Park, despite the damage caused to the roof of the old stand during last week’s storm. Cork referee Diarmuid Kirwan will be in charge and the match has a 2pm throw-in.

What was already a difficult assignment for the visitors looks as if it might have become even more testing after the competition’s opening round last weekend. Following their narrow defeat by All-Ireland champions Clare in Ennis, Kilkenny will be even more determined to get their season up and running with a victory.

Speaking after Saturday’s opening fixture at Semple Stadium and looking ahead to Sunday’s big game in Kilkenny, Eamon O’Shea said “Yeah, great fun! The last time we were there was a fantastic game. People seemed to forget (that match) in the excitement of last year but certainly it’s a game I remember. We came out on the wrong side of a great battle, a great occasion, fantastic - provincial ground, great excitement, very partisan crowd - I hope it’s the same again”.

When asked if his team had a point to prove, he said “No, it’s just another two points - I don’t think they give four points for beating Kilkenny! No, it’s just another game”.

Injuries have sidelined players including Lar Corbett, ‘Bonner’ Maher, Paddy Stapleton and Eoin Kelly, with Stapleton in line for a possible return this weekend.

“The rest should be back shortly after that, they’re not long-term”, said the manager.

He also shed light on the announcement last week of a 26-man panel for the National League.

“We didn’t really cut the panel down. We had to name 26 but there’s lots of fellas there, fellas outside the panel who will be getting games. I wouldn’t pay too much attention to that panel”.

Tipp didn’t exactly set the world alight with their defeat of Waterford but their manager wasn’t unduly concerned with the performance.

“I was very happy with the way they tried to eke out a win, that’s the most pleasing aspect of the game. It was very competitive, it could have gone either way. Our lads are happy that they stayed working at the game, that was the most pleasing aspect of the day, and only that. The hurling will come, it’s just very early in the season”.

When questioned whether the rotation of the forwards was planned in advance or if the players had taken the decision themselves, he replied “they have to work these things out - I’m not a great planner.

I think the team deserves huge credit, most of the credit would go to the players for sorting it out. That’s the way it has to be, that’s the way it is, the team has to sort things out and they did it this time.

These are players who are really trying hard and fair play to them”.

Meanwhile, in the wake of his side’s one-point defeat against Clare, Kilkenny boss Brian Cody said “there were a lot of good points about our performance. Lads played very decently and while we had a lot of inexperienced players throughout the field they did well.

We were very much in the game at all times. The Clare goal (from Colin Ryan) was a bit of a setback and then we had a chance of a goal that didn’t go in (from Henry Shefflin’s penalty).

Overall our performance wasn’t bad but obviously I’d much prefer to win the game.

We’ll keep working away, there’s no big, massive plan. We’ll try and win matches and play as well as we possibly can. We need to build a panel of players so we’ll look at as many we can.

It’s a very competitive league. All the teams are capable of beating each other on a given day”.

When asked if he planned to play Henry Shefflin on a regular basis throughout the league, he said there was no definite plan for any player.

“We assess the situation from week to week. We look at the injury situation, see who’s available and take it from there”.

A point in the 65th minute by Colin Ryan proved decisive as Davy Fitzgerald’s men sealed a 1-16 to 0-18 victory at Cusack Park. Clare were on top for the majority of the first half thanks to a goal from Ryan but Kilkenny– buoyed by Henry Shefflin – dug their heels in and got back into the game.

Shefflin had 7 points to his name by the interval, with the sides going in level at 0-11 to 1-8. A Colm Galvin score in the second half restored Clare’s lead but the sides were level with 15 minutes remaining.

Kilkenny were ahead for the first time on 57 minutes through Padraig Walsh, but Clare fought back to seal a hard-earned victory.