For the second successive year Tipperary have drawn what many consider the short straw in the All-Ireland Hurling Championship Qualifiers.
Monday morning’s draw has pitted them against the losers of the Leinster Championship semi-final replay between Kilkenny and Galway.
However with every cloud comes a silver lining and Tipperary are at least pleased that they will have home advantage for the game, which will be played at Semple Stadium at 7pm on Saturday evening, July 5. The match will be shown live on Sky Sports and if necessary extra time will be played.
The draw revives unhappy memories of last year, when Tipp lost to Limerick in the Munster Championship semi-final before being beaten by Kilkenny in the All-Ireland qualifier at Nowlan Park.
The identity of their opponents will be known on Saturday night, when Kilkenny and Galway meet in the Leinster semi-final replay at Tullamore at 7 o’clock, a match, incidentally, that won’t be televised lived.
RTE had expressed an interest in covering the match live provided it had a 2.30 throw-in. However the Leinster Council was concerned about the impact that such a start would have on the attendance and stuck with the evening throw-in.
Sky Sports are already covering the Ulster Senior Football Championship semi-final between Monaghan and Armagh on Saturday and the GAA’s television contracts preclude live coverage of two championship games at the same time. The dramatic finale to Sunday’s game means that O’Connor Park in Tullamore will in all probability be sold out for the replay.
Tipperary, meanwhile, are now preparing to resurrect their campaign after the disappointing defeat to Limerick. The qualifier on Saturday week will be their first competitive outing in five weeks since that setback at Semple Stadium and they will be up against opponents who will be playing their third match in as many weeks.
Sunday’s Leinster semi-final provided a dramatic finale, when Galway came from 10 points down to snatch a draw in what was so far the best game of this year’s championship. However the prospect of facing either Kilkenny or Galway doesn’t hold any fears for Tipperary, according to County Board chairman Sean Nugent.
“Some people have been looking at recent games and are wondering if we can reach that level of intensity. I’m confident that we will come up to that standard”, he stated this week. “We’re reasonably happy with the draw. If you’re good enough you will come through, and if you win you’ll have seen off one of the major players in the championship.
If you had got an ‘easier’ draw at this stage you would still have to face one of the bigger teams at a later stage; you’re going to have to face them at some stage if you want to progress. It’s a home draw, we didn’t have that luck last year and the supporters will be happy about that”.
He acknowledged it had taken a little while to get the Limerick defeat out of their system.
However he added that “training has been going well and there has been a good response from the players. We’re in a good position to take on either Kilkenny or Galway and we’ll be up for the challenge. The message is that Tipperary haven’t gone away”.