This year’s Championship is shaping up to be one of the most thrilling and intense competitions we have seen in a while. Kilkenny, Tipperary and Cork are no longer solely seen as being, ‘The Big Three.’
Clare, Wexford and Limerick have all seen the emergence of fresh, skilled teams. As for Galway and Waterford, they will be back this year as hungry and driven as ever. Add all these teams together, and it looks like we are in for an exciting summer!
A Major Tip
Looking at last year’s Championship and the League of 2018, the impending All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship looks like a difficult one to predict. One team though, that are serious contenders to threaten other teams and clinch the Liam McCarthy cup this year is Tipperary.
Looking back to last year
Heading into the Championship this year, Tipperary will want to forget last year, move on and improve.
They were knocked out of the Munster Championship in the opening game against Cork when they were the fancied team. In the All Ireland Championship, they reached the Semi-Final, against Galway. Galway put an end to their chances at lifting Liam McCarthy, as The Tribesmen won the match by one point, which came from Joe Canning in the final few seconds.
You can be assured that come this summer, the Premier County will do everything in their power to get themselves back into the Munster and All Ireland Final.
It was certainly an improvement from the heavy beating that Tipperary took from Galway in the League final in 2016.
Tipperary played this year’s League final without some key players who were ruled out due to injury. Dan McCormack had knee surgery, and Seamus Callanan was out of action for the whole League due to a back injury.
However, without these players, Tipperary still played a well-fought match of Hurling, contesting well against Kilkenny in a bid for the League. When these absent players are recovered and back in action come the summer, Tipperary will be a driving force to be reckoned with.
Who to look out for?
This season will see the return of Cathal Barrett to the Tipperary panel. Perhaps the shock of the Championship last year was when it was announced that Barrett had been dropped from the panel due to a breach of discipline.
After defeats from Cork in the Munster Championship and Galway in the All Ireland Semi-Final, you have to wonder the difference that a skilful and experienced player such as Barrett could have made.
Though manager Michael Ryan and Barrett have reconciled and he is back for their 2018 campaign. He was benched for the League Final against Kilkenny, but he will definitely make an impact this summer for Tipperary.
During the League campaign Forde completely shone, scoring an impressive 7-72 over the course of 8 matches.
This made him the top player in Division 1A. No doubt, he will be tightly marked by the opposition in the summertime.
Will Liam McCarthy return to the Premier County?
This year Michael Ryan will enter his third season as manager and Pádraic Maher will continue to hold captainship. Maher performed superbly during the League, which is to be expected as his form rarely drops.
Michael Ryan will certainly hope they stay on top of their game.
If they do and add the return of some key players into the mix, they are serious contenders for an All Ireland title this year.
We are excited already!