John Meyler and Ciaran Carey preview Tipperary v Offaly in the All-Ireland SHC preliminary quarter-final clash in Tullamore.
Ciaran Carey believes there are a number of contenders for the All-Ireland senior hurling title.
Limerick are chasing a four-in-a-row but were pushed all the way through Munster this year.
Dublin and Tipperary are expected to dispense with Carlow and Offaly respectively this weekend, with Clare and Galway waiting in the next round.
Both the Faithful and Premier have had a three-week break since their most recent outings, and Tipp have welcomed back some key men fore the trip to Tullamore.
Offaly’s Dara Maher was red-carded in the Joe McDonngh Cup final against Carlow and failed with an appeal, while Tipp have named a 26 that does not include star defender Cathal Barrett — though Craig Morgan returns from a cruciate injury.
In truth, the majority of pundits see this as little more than a tune-up fight for Tipp ahead of an All-Ireland quarter-final clash with Galway.
“It will be interesting to see how Tipperary will approach it because, at the end of the day, everyone thought that they would jump the fence against Waterford but it didn’t happen,” says Carey.
“How are they going to react to that? There’s a huge incentive there for Tipperary so I will be expecting a massive performance.
“Will it manifest itself? Only time will tell.”
“I’d expect them to get over Offaly who had huge disappointment losing to Carlow and the Under-20 final as well,” says John Meyler.
“So look, I expect Tipp to come out and come out well.”
“Liam Cahill has got a fair twist out of them bar that Waterford result,” Carey adds. “They have been pretty good.
“If they jump the fence and if they do it in style, they’re throwing themselves right into the melting pot.
“Looking at the All-Ireland series from here, I think it’s open for duck season.
“There’s possibly two or three teams there that are serious contenders and it’s up to the rest to get into the melting pot.
“Galway with Gearoid McInerney and Daithi Burke, they need to be wrapped in cotton wool and kept fresh for the next game because they’re huge going forward.
“The rest of the team is fine but they have been around a long time and it will be interesting see what kind of a mark that Kilkenny defeat is going to leave on those two guys.
“If Galway are going to contest an All-Ireland, they’ll need them commanding both positions.”
OFFALY v TIPPERARY
Offaly were runners-up in the Joe McDonagh Cup, losing the final to Carlow in extra-time.
Tipperary finished third in Munster behind Clare and Limerick.
TIPPERARY (MUNSTER SHC)
- Tipperary 5-22 Clare 3-23
- Cork 4-19 Tipperary 2-25
- Tipperary 0-25 Limerick 0-25
- Waterford 1-24 Tipperary 0-21
OFFALY (JOE McDONAGH CUP)
- Offaly 3-19 Laois 1-22
- Offaly 2-22 Kildare 3-11
- Offaly 1-26 Down 1-15
- Offaly 1-24 Kerry 0-16
- Carlow 1-29 Offaly 0-14
- Carlow 2-29 Offaly 1-31 aet (Final)
Tipperary won one, drew two and lost one of their four games in the Munster ‘round
Offaly won four and lost two (including the final) of their six games in the Joe McDonagh Cup.
Offaly and Tipperary last met in the championship in 2014 when Tipp won an All-Ireland qualifier by 5-25 to 1-20 in Portlaoise. Seamus Callanan scored 2-10 for Tipperary while Brian Carroll scored 0-13 for Offaly.