Thursday 14 November 2019

'Bonner' Maher is a real leader in Tipp's attack

Christy O'Connor

The Tipp attack is a different animal now to what it was 12 months ago. For a start, they're nothing like the goal-machine they were.

The dearth of goalscoring which surfaced in the league -- when they created just 13 goalscoring chances in six games -- has resurfaced in the championship, with just nine chances created in three games.

Changing their style from a long-ball team to a more measured one has impacted on their goalscoring, but there still have been hints of their old fluency. That was evident in the first half of the Munster semi-final, when they stretched the Cork defence all over the place. It was that fluent game which unhinged Kilkenny in 2010 too.

After his experience in last year's final, Lar Corbett won't want to be anywhere near Jackie Tyrrell again, so Tipp will probably start him on Richie Doyle. Galway and Limerick looked to target Doyle but following Corbett as a tracker may in fact suit the rookie.

There have been rumours of JJ Delaney moving to the half-back line but there is no chance of that happening.

Last year, Brian Cody disregarded the consensus that going man-to-man was the wrong tactic to cope with the Tipp attack. He felt that they had the players to execute such a strategy because five of his six defenders were versatile in either the full-back or half-back line.

Kilkenny will probably opt for a similar strategy again on Sunday but Tipp will surely try and get around that by playing Noel McGrath in a withdrawn role at centre-forward. If Brian Hogan plays his normal role as an auxiliary full-back, the responsibility for picking up McGrath then falls to the Kilkenny midfielders and half-forward line.

What is now certain is that Patrick 'Bonner' Maher has become one of the real leaders of this Tipp attack. From a combined 26 plays against Limerick and Cork, Maher was directly involved in 1-9. He also set up John O'Brien's goal in the Munster final.

Although Tommy Walsh had claims for Man of the Match in last year's final, those claims were undermined by Maher having a direct hand in seven Tipp scores.

With that in mind, Tipp will be happy to start Maher on Walsh again on Sunday because Walsh certainly doesn't like having to turn and chase after his man heading towards his own goal. Whoever wins that battle could go a long way towards deciding the game.

Ratings

Kilkenny -- 8

Tipperary -- 9

Irish Independent

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