Monday 22 January 2018

Chairman 'disappointed' with Tipp's Mullingar snub

Ryan: Expecting big test Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Ryan: Expecting big test Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Jackie Cahill

Westmeath county board chairman Sean Sheridan is disappointed that Tipperary did not agree to a proposal to play this evening's All-Ireland SHC round 1 qualifier in Mullingar.

Sheridan accepts that, having come out of the bowl first, Tipp are entitled to home advantage at Semple Stadium but he believes that the champions could have made an exception in this case.

Sheridan said: "It would have done the power of good for Westmeath hurling, to have them here but it was their choice.

"I made the offer to them, that we'd feed them and look after them. The Westmeath county board would have looked after Tipp but we have to go there now and see how it turns out.

"I would have rang Croke Park, and they tried Tipperary as well. In saying that, we're not going to whinge about it now.

"It's their decision after all, they came out of the bowl first, but we would be a little disappointed, as a designated county.

"We thought that Tipp might come, Kilkenny always come to Westmeath but listen, that's neither here nor there now. We have to put our minds away from that and get on with it.

"There's a game of hurling down in Tipp and we have to put our focus on that."

Tipp are expected to rack up a massive score and advance to round 2.

And former manager Eamon O'Shea says that he still has huge belief in team management and players to turn the Premier County's season around.

Tipp have suffered damaging defeats in their last two competitive outings, as an Allianz League final whipping at the hands of Galway was followed by a Munster quarter-final loss to Cork.

But O'Shea was coach in 2010 when Tipp bounced back from a Cork defeat in Munster to win the All-Ireland.

And he told Tipp FM: "It's time to reflect and address things that need to be addressed.

"Every game is going to be different now but I think there's energy in that group.

"I would have huge belief, massive belief, in the players and management. Tipperary are starting off on a new championship. They'll be looking to win the game against Westmeath. It's not going to be easy after a six-week break.

"We'll need a bit of patience and hopefully they'll get through that game and move on.

"I just look forward to the next two months."

Westmeath manager Michael Ryan acknowledged the scale of his team's task but has urged his players to "relish" the opportunity.

He said: "We have a lot of good, talented players. It's a very young team and most of our players are under 24 and wouldn't have the experience of playing against the calibre of players that Tipp have.

"But having said that, we played Limerick last year and missed a penalty at a vital stage, when we had a chance of winning the game.

"It's a big test - something our players should relish."

Irish Independent

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