Sport Hurling

Sunday 25 March 2018

Player's view - Michael Fennelly

Ballyhale and Kilkenny midfielder

"Tipperary seem to have a lot more subs to come in this season. They've not the same dependence on certain forwards like last year, they're after reshuffling their backs, forwards and midfield and have no set team as such and I think they're stronger. After restructuring the team they can actually bring lads in and out of positions, which is a definite addition.

"They've a couple of (new) young lads but they also have the All-Ireland final experience from last year, which will stand to them. They've a good few of those lads who won two minor All-Irelands in a row, and they're also in the U-21 final, so experience is not an issue with them.

"Last year Tipp out-hurled us for a good bit of the match. We did up our game in the last 10 minutes but they'd chances as well, and PJ Ryan pulled off two or three miraculous saves, so it could have gone either way.

"Being captain, I wanted to lead the team out that day but I wasn't picked so I was just hoping to get a run with five or 10 minutes to go.

"That whole game was very tense and you were wondering what you could do if you were brought on, what strength could you bring to it. What weaknesses were in their team that you could affect? I was delighted to get in and wanted to prove myself and be part of it.

"Thankfully TJ (Reid), myself and 'Gorta' (Martin Comerford) came in and chipped in a few scores. The sending-off had a big impact and the penalty too. There were crucial decisions there and obvious controversy. People in Kilkenny agreed with them and people in Tipp didn't. People have their opinions every day in games but the scoreboard is all that matters.

"Last year I'd have put in an awful lot of work off the field, outside training, but maybe there's just a small bit of pressure off me this year, not being the captain.

"I was lucky enough to get a start against Dublin this year, hurled okay and got the next start against Galway -- a big game against a good team -- and I played alright as well, so building in confidence has helped me I suppose.

"But if I don't play well in the All-Ireland final it won't matter."

Irish Independent

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