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Tipp to enforce seniority rules

IT'S not often that an All-Ireland U21 final arrives with as much trumpeted fanfare, colour and strife as tomorrow's Thurles showdown.





Clare's triumph 12 months ago was widely seen as being beneficial for the competition but surely you couldn't buy the sort of publicity this one has had over the past two weeks or so.

First, you had the venue -- Thurles. Understandably given the identity of their opponents, Galway are somewhat irked by the pitch chosen by the CCCC.

Duly, threats to pull out of the final were issued briefly but withdrawn equally as swift. A-list GAA types like Páraic Duffy and Christy Cooney even weighed into the argument.

Then, Tipp full-back, John Coghlan, is retrospectively recommended for a four-week ban after the CCCC upgraded the yellow card he received against Antrim in the semi-final to a red.

Quite what Coghlan was doing being so feisty in such a cakewalk of a match is open for debate but, yet again, the CCCC are major players in tomorrow's final.

The cherry on the icing on the cake though, was Tipperary's mighty All-Ireland senior triumph of six days ago. From being an afterthought on a week of innate disappointment for Tipperary people, the U21 final suddenly becomes a cause to mobilise again and feast on their new status at the peak of the hurling world.

That, and another good night out in Thurles.

Either way, Semple Stadium should be buzzing by the time Tipp hit the pitch and even more so when the Premier team sheet is read out and the names of Pádraic Maher, Michael Cahill, Brendan Maher, Patrick Maher and Noel McGrath are announced to their adoring public.

From that respective, Galway are coming into this match registering less than a feint blip in the radar. Their odds -- 7/2 -- suggest they are no-hopers and they trail Tipperary in all the key areas.



Star-studded

The Tribesmen don't have anything like the sort of big game experience dripping from the Tipp camp. They are a young, raw group and only captain David Burke has tasted senior intercounty championship action.

Contrast that with the experience of the five All-Ireland-winning starters on the Tipp selection plus the likes of Seamus Hennessy, Brian O'Meara and Michael Heffernan and that's as star-studded an U21 team as you could hope for.

OK, Tipp were never pushed even to the middle of their abilities by Antrim but given the proximity of the All-Ireland senior final just two and a half weeks later, they were forgiven for easing up. Galway beat an understrength Dublin following a late surge and a meltdown in the Dubs' free-taking but that they did so largely without Richie Cummins -- who limped off with an ankle injury -- says much for their fire-power.

Cummins has been passed fit and he is capable of scorching even the most nimble and vigilant of corner-backs. But unless the likes of Niall Quinn and Bernard Burke pitch in with serious tallies, they may find it hard to score.

Conversely, Tipp have scoring options everywhere and in Noel McGrath and Hennessy, a midfield capable of generating momentum from everywhere.

This looks as clear cut as it gets.

ODDS: Tipperary 2/9, Draw 12/1, Galway 7/2

3VERDICT: TIpperary


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