John Mullane fears Tipperary could be high profile victims of the new hectic hurling schedule
John Mullane said that Tipperary are in danger of finishing in the bottom two in the new Munster championship and exiting the race for the Liam MacCarthy and believes their fixture schedule is not helping their cause.
Tipperary came back from a nine point deficit to rescue a draw against Cork last weekend but Michael Ryan’s men have only a single point on the board going into the second half of the Munster Round Robin series after their round one loss to Limerick.
The Premier county will play Waterford this weekend before playing their fourth game in four consecutive weeks against a Clare team that impressed in their victory over the Déise on Sunday.
Mullane said that while Tipperary have the best team in Munster on paper, their heavy fixture list puts them at risk of failing to qualify.
Speaking on The Throw-In, Independent.ie's GAA podcast, the five-time All-Star said that he expects an easy win for Tipperary over Derek McGrath's depleted Waterford side but thinks they will struggle when they host Clare the following week.
“It’s looking like Tipperary are going to have to win their last two games just to get into the last six,” he said.
“Its strongly forecasted that they probably will beat Waterford, but then Clare come to town.
“Clare in two weeks time, that really is the fixture. They're going to be four weekends on the trot and Clare coming off a week break and they're going to be fresh.”
Mullane who played in the eras of straight knockout and back door systems would have played a maximum of three games in the Munster Championship. This year, the provincial finalists will have played four games, reducing the recovery time available to them.
The De La Salle native said that issues with the system need to be readdressed. While player welfare and fatigue are the main concerns, Mullane also said that teams coming into a game on the back of a weekend off have a distinct advantage over their rivals.
“I think an extra weeks break really has to be looked at,” he said.
“I don’t think any team should be out four weekends in a row. I can see the value of having two weeks in a row.
“We saw it when Kilkenny went down and beat Wexford in the National Hurling League semi-final, Kilkenny had the extra weeks rest and Wexford were after going hammer and tongs against Galway.
“It is a massive advantage for a team to get a weeks rest and not to be out for a fortnight and its beginning to be telling.”