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Tipp to get back in the saddle with win against Wexford

ALL-IRELAND SHC QUALIFIER PHASE 1

TIPPERARY v WEXFORD (Thurles, Today, 3.30)

THIS year could quickly descend into a horror show for Tipperary unless a very impressive and emphatic win is hatched here today.

Bad enough to lose your Munster crown to Cork, but in such straight-forward fashion too and it merely hammered home the notion that the Rebels simply never fear Tipp.

For the past three years, Cork have always had the excuse that they were ill-prepared but such was the might of Tipperary in league and champion-ship last season, it was widely felt that they represented the biggest threat to Kilkenny's stranglehold on all things hurling.

Now, their place in the overall pecking order is pretty unsure and for the first time in his tenure, Liam Sheedy is coming under a bit of local pressure.

His team selection reflects that. There are four changes to the side from that which flopped against Cork and two championship debutants.

David Young and Patrick Maher will make their summer bows at wing-back and wing-forward respectively with Conor O'Brien and Gearóid Ryan also coming in.

It's notable that two of those changes, Maher and Ryan, are in the Tipperary half-forward line, their Achilles heel and the bane of a succession of recent Premier County sides.

Yet neither seem to be the sort of Niall McCarthy holding half-forward which Tipp really need to give them a physical presence in that area of the field.





Downfall

Most likely, their shortcomings will go undetected tomorrow. Wexford hurled well in patches against Galway and they might blame indiscipline as the maker of their downfall but the problems are more deep rooted.

Without the suspended Diarmuid Lyng, they're missing both their primary ball winner and their most prolific scorer. Veteran corner-back Paul Roche makes a welcome return to the side while David Redmond, Tomás Waters and Tomás Mahon are all in from the start for this one.

Tipp need a massive response from their entire team and they might well get it here but only when they face one of the big guns will we know whether the healing process has worked.

Wexford should provide stern resistance, particularly if Keith Rossiter is passed fit, but two years of Division 2 hurling isn't the best practice ground for winning tight championship matches and Tipp should pull away.

ODDS: Tipperary 1/12, Draw 16/1, Wexford 7/1

VERDICT: Tipperary


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