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Should Bubbles O'Dwyer start for Tipperary in Sunday's All-Ireland final?

Tipp legend Lar Corbett has his say.

O'Dwyer played a crucial role coming off the bench in the semi-final.
O'Dwyer played a crucial role coming off the bench in the semi-final.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

TIPPERARY LEGEND LAR Corbett reckons boss Michael Ryan should be bold and hold John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer in reserve again as an impact substitute for the All-Ireland final.

O’Dwyer hasn’t started a game since being sent off against Limerick in the Munster championship though turned the All-Ireland semi-final against Galway when introduced after 45 minutes.

Aside from scoring Tipp’s crucial first goal he also played a clever pass to Noel McGrath for a significant point in the narrow win.

The general consensus is that the 2014 AllStar, who famously missed a free to beat Kilkenny in that season’s drawn All-Ireland final, will start and that Niall O’Meara will make way.

But Corbett, a hat-trick hero when Tipp last beat Kilkenny in the Championship, the 2010 All-Ireland final, suggested that they should keep him on their bench to hit Kilkenny hard when the game is up for grabs in the second-half.

“You need someone like ‘Bubbles’ when the game goes into the melting pot just after half-time,” said Corbett. “When he came on the last time we all knew something magic was going to happen and we believed ourselves it was going to happen.

“And when you believe like that, players will believe it as well, so it’s a lift, not just to spectators but to players. It created a bit of magic and you can start that bit of magic either but who is going to come on to do the ‘Bubbles’ job?

“We do have players on the sideline but do we have someone with the bit of experience, someone who we believe is capable of doing that job when they come on?

“That’s the one thing I’d say about starting him, he’s your trump card (as a substitute). I’d rather hold out. I’d rather see how the thing plays out and I always know that I have, not a safety card but that bit of magic that you do need in an All-Ireland and he is certainly capable of delivering it.

Lar Corbett Lar Corbett was speaking at the launch of the eir Sports Book of the Year. The winner of this year's award will be announced in December. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“I always believe that your first forward coming on should be better than your last forward starting because you want him as a game changer, you want him to do something that maybe hasn’t been done in the first 40 minutes.”

Bookmakers have the teams deadlocked in the race for the MacCarthy Cup, an acknowledgement that despite winning the last two All-Irelands, Kilkenny are facing a well balanced Tipp side that has hit strong form.

Statistics don’t do Tipp any favours though with just one Championship win over Kilkenny since Brian Cody took over as the Cats manager in late 1998.

“The stats are there unfortunately,” said Corbett. “In the big games the stats are there that we haven’t won. I don’t have an excuse for that. They have won more of those games than us and those are just facts.

“Go back to the league final of 2009 in Thurles, we thought we had that one but they got two goals in 90 seconds. In the 2014 All-Ireland final, it was a HawkEye decision that denied us and took it to a replay.

“Look, I don’t know, that’s my answer to your question but when it comes to tight games they just seem to always get over the line.

“Do they believe a bit more? I don’t know but they find a way of getting over that line. If I could answer that question the first thing I’d do is change it around because it is a serious question.

“I know myself that we don’t fear them, we genuinely look forward to playing Kilkenny. That has always been the way. We actually seem to bring out the best in each other but in those games back through the years we just haven’t got it up to the level we needed to.

“We reached it in 2010 but even then we scored four goals and up to the last two or three minutes there was only two or three points in it. We ended up winning by seven but still they were always close to us. I suppose that’s the thing with Kilkenny, you never have them beaten.”

Corbett believes that one word has summed up Tipp so far in this year’s Championship, aggression.

“If you look at the shoulder Paudie Maher hit Joe Canning the last day, that set the standard,” suggested Corbett, referencing the thunderous challenge that left both players bloodied. “He was saying, ‘this is what’s going to happen here today’. Not only that one, I can think back on the Munster final and Brendan Maher driving (Kevin) Moran out over the sideline.

“I don’t know what the score was at the time but he was saying, ‘lads, it’s not for you today’. These were the opportunities that came up and Tipp players took them and they’re climbing and climbing all the time, getting better and better. But look, everything rests on Sunday. Nothing else matters, the Munster final, beating Galway the last day, it’s all about the final now.”

Former Tipperary Hurler Lar Corbett, was speaking at the launch of the eir Sport Sports Book of the Year 2016. The eir Sport Sports Book of the Year, now in its second year, will once again seek to find the best sports book published by an Irish author in 2016, or sports book with an Irish subject matter.

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