O'Shea wary of Dublin's inside line to Tipperary camp
Presence of Dunne, Stakelum and O'Dwyer in Blues' set-up adds spice to quarter-final
Eamon O'Shea is wary of the Tipperary presence in the Dublin camp ahead of this Sunday's All-Ireland SHC quarter-final in Thurles.
Tipperary manager O'Shea suspects that coach Tommy Dunne, selector Richie Stakelum and forward Ryan O'Dwyer have the inside track on their native county.
O'Shea believes that the trio's considerable levels of inside knowledge will present his players with a new challenge to consider.
And O'Shea still rates Dublin as "top contenders" for All-Ireland glory, despite their comprehensive defeat at the hands of Kilkenny in the Leinster final.
O'Shea said: "They're Leinster champions from last year, were in the All-Ireland semi-final and unlucky not to get to the final.
"And in my view, they're top contenders. They have beaten Wexford this year and they are now the form team – beat them in Wexford Park too. They know us very well and have very prominent Tipp men in Tommy Dunne, Richie Stakelum and Ryan O'Dwyer.
"They know our style, but, for us, this is the biggest match of the year in terms of being on our game. It will take a really good performance for us to get through. Dublin have been a top team for three or four years and we expect a mighty battle."
O'Shea revealed that Conor O'Mahony is a major doubt once again for the weekend fixture.
Defender O'Mahony (29) continues to struggle with a back problem that ruled him out of the qualifier victories over Galway and Offaly.
O'Shea confirmed: "Conor will be 50-50 in terms of whether he will be involved. He played on Sunday in a bit of a match, but he's going from session to session. His back is an ongoing problem there.
"Niall O'Meara is definitely out and Liam McGrath is not available."
O'Shea is expected to go with an unchanged team for Dublin's visit, but he acknowledged that a number of players are champing at the bit as they look to force their way into the line-up.
He explained: "We're very competitive in training and that's a credit to the guys who maybe didn't start the last day and came in.
"There's really good competition and a nice balance of young players trying to make their mark and the experienced players also contributing hugely."
O'Shea hinted that six-time All Star Eoin Kelly, captain of the 2010 All-Ireland-winning team, will feature again after scoring a point when he came off the bench against Offaly.
He said: "Eoin is a huge leader, Paul Curran the same. All the guys are pushing and understand what it takes to win at this level.
"It was great to see Eoin come in and everybody was delighted for him, because of how much he's valued in the squad. Eoin will have a role to play, hopefully, on Sunday, as well as whoever else is asked to play. I think that leadership is huge."
Having not tasted a championship victory in charge until that dramatic come-from-behind victory over Galway, O'Shea admitted that belief has come flooding back after two successive wins.
He explained: "In terms of when you win a game, it makes it easier to go back and believe that what you're doing is right. That's important for the players.
"You keep your belief all through, but the difference between winning and losing is very slight. Once you get the bounce one way, it gives you the momentum to move on. You see that with the likes of teams who come through the back door every year – Clare last year, Wexford this year and ourselves, hopefully.
"When we won that game against Galway, it made it easier to win the next one. But that will only take you so far."
And O'Shea stressed: "If you look at the performance against Galway and then Offaly, that (level of) performance will have to go up a notch to get us over the line. We weren't happy with elements of the performance against Offaly.
"We were inconsistent during the game. We let our performance drop and if that happens against Dublin, we'll be in trouble.
"When we met them in the league match, they went 0-9 to 0-3 ahead of us and if we allow that to happen next Sunday, we'll be in trouble."