Premier world 'begins and ends' with Treaty summer showdown
TIPPERARY assistant manager Michael Ryan says that the Premier County can not afford to contemplate another championship defeat against Limerick.
The neighbours meet at Semple Stadium on June 1 in a seismic Munster semi-final clash, with Limerick arriving to Thurles as the reigning provincial kingpins.
Tipp suffered a shock 1-18 to 1-15 defeat at the Gaelic Grounds in last year's corresponding fixture and Ryan admitted: "Our world begins and ends on June 1 – it's as simple as that.
"If we've learned something in 2013, it is that it's a very level playing field for every county.
"If anything, we're in the chasing pack. There's a lot of teams ahead of us – we have a lot of ground to make up.
"The National League starts on Saturday – we're into the business end of it now. The games are going to come thick and fast. We've set out our stall – we want to find ourselves in a league quarter-final.
"A good start is what we're looking for. That's our key game – Waterford under lights and that's another little dimension.
"It's going to be a great opportunity. We're going to try and have at least four or five new players on the pitch, to try and expose them to top-end hurling.
"But there's a bigger picture here – it's June 1, championship against Limerick."
Ryan admitted that finding a balance between league experimentation and picking up crucial points can be a tricky task.
And he joked: "We're thinking Claudio Ranieri – wasn't he the 'Tinkerman'? Is it Claudio O'Shea that we have now?
"It's a fine line – if you had to ask me that question five years ago when Liam (Sheedy) picked Eamon (O'Shea) and myself to join him, I'd have said we'll experiment every day we play, but you're running the gauntlet then.
"You'll find yourself at the lower end of the league, you're not competitive and what have you really found out?
"You'll probably be a little bit disjointed and you're always running that risk.
"But look, I think if we asked anybody, they would probably be able to name eight to 10 of what will be, injuries aside and all things being equal, the 2014 championship team.
"What we need to figure out is what's the best mix and who's going to add something to that. I think that's the biggest question we have to answer – what's our best mix?
"Have we enough players of the various different qualities within the mix and can we use them for different games at different times?"