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'I'd question that Galway's will to win and never say die attitude is going to come to fruition on Sunday'

Eight-time All-Ireland winner Richie Power believes Tipperary’s experience will get them over the line.

Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

THE TIPPERARY TEAM that took to the field against Clare in the quarter-final showed just three changes in personnel from the All-Ireland final last September.

Worryingly for the Premier, those changes came in the full-back line and between the posts. Dismantling the last line of defence is usually not the way to go if you’re looking to string together back-to-back All-Ireland titles.

That said, Kilkenny lifted the Liam MacCarthy in 2014 with a full-back line of Paul Murphy, JJ Delaney and Jackie Tyrrell. By their next success the following September it looked completely different: Murphy, Joey Holden and Shane Prendergast.

Cathal Barrett’s removal from the Tipperary squad for disciplinary reasons has been well-covered at this stage, but Michael Cahill’s injury struggles have been a major blow to manager Michael Ryan.

Donagh Maher has been an able deputy for Barrett and performed well, but James Barry has been moved from full-back to corner-back in Cahill’s absence, with Tomas Hamilly coming in on the edge of the square.

“Their full-back line is under a savage amount of pressure,” former Kilkenny forward Richie Power tells The42. “I can’t understand the reason for moving James Barry, an All-Star full-back, out of position.

“That was a very, very strange move on Michael Ryan’s behalf.”

James Barry Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Power believes Cahill will return to the corner on Sunday, allowing Barry return to full-back.

“I’d expect James Barry to pick up (Galway full-forward) Conor Cooney.  You’ve Ronan Maher on Joe Canning, that’s going to be a huge battle.

“Joe is one of the most talented players in the country and if you give him space and time he can make the ball dance and sing. For me Tipp have to follow him. Whether it’s Ronan Maher they give that job to, I don’t know. Ronan likes to sit in that pocket in centre-back and clear up ball.

“He’s hitting the frees extremely well, he’s bringing a lot of players into the game and setting up a lot of scores. They scored 0-28 in a Leinster final without Joe scoring from play so that’s no mean feat.

Richie Power Former Kilkenny star, Richie Power is the latest GAA stalwart to take part in the Bord Gáis Energy Legends Tour Series. Richie is one of the many GAA greats who will host tours of Croke Park as part of the 2017 Legends Tour series. The next tour will take place on August 19, where former Kerry star Marc Ó Sé, will take GAA fans on a trip down memory lane. Bord Gáis Energy customers have exclusive access to these once-in-a-life-time tours through the Bord Gáis Energy Rewards Club. For ticket information log on to: www.crokepark.ie/gaa-museum.

“If they can do that again on Sunday they’ll win the game but I don’t think the Galway forwards are going to get as much freedom as they did in the Leinster final against Wexford.”

At the far end, Power identifies two key battles at the heart of the Galway defence.

“It could all hinge on three or four key battles,” he says.

“Daithi Burke is going to be on the top of his game to keep Seamie Callanan quiet. Gearoid McInerney at centre-back, his tussle with Bonner Maher is going to be huge as well.

“Bonner makes that Tipp forward line click and he got on a world of ball against Clare and made things happen.

“Overall the middle third is where this game is going to be won and lost. I think Tipperary have a more settled and experienced set of players in that part of the field and that part might get them the win in the end.”

Galway have to deal with a five-week break since their last competitive game, but Power feels their mentality is more of an issue heading into Sunday.

Patrick Maher Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“Some teams have really struggled in the past to deal with the five-week break. Galway have in the past. It was those games in training that kept us fine-tuned all those years we were doing it from a Leinster final to an All-Ireland semi-final. That’s the big thing.

“Tipperary have a couple of games under their belt in the last few weeks because they’ve beaten a very poor Dublin team and a poor Clare team. I think they’re coming into this game very, very fresh.

“I’d just question that Galway’s will to win and never say die attitude is going to come to fruition on Sunday. It’s going to be interesting to see can they grab this game by the scruff of the neck and push on because that’s what they’ve lacked in All-Ireland finals in the last 10 years.

“That’s going to be a big question that Galway have to answer on Sunday. If they win this game I think they’ll go on to win the All-Ireland.

“But I think Tipp are coming to the boil at the right time and their experience might get them over the line.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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