Saturday 28 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
Donall Farmer/INPHO Clare's Davy Fitzgerald and Tipperary boss Eamon O'Shea could lock horns in a Munster semi-final.
# Under Pressure
6 hurling bosses feeling the heat ahead of championship 2015
This sextet of hurling gaffers need big performances from their counties.

1. Jimmy Barry-Murphy (Cork)

Legendary Cork boss JBM could badly do with a victory against Waterford in the Munster SHC semi-final on 7 June.

The Rebels were hammered by championship opponents Waterford in the Allianz League final and have injury worries to contend with, as key defenders Christopher Joyce and Lorcán McLoughlin are ruled out.

Cork did win last year’s Munster title but their bid for All-Ireland glory floundered at the semi-final stage against Tipperary, when they lost heavily at Croke Park.

But Cork do have the chance to make amends for the below-par nature of their last championship display as they plot a revenge mission against the Déise at Semple Stadium.

JBM has already admitted that he thought long and hard about returning for another campaign and no matter what happens this season, he will always remain an idol in the eyes of Cork fans following his remarkable dual exploits as a player.

Jimmy Barry-Murphy James Crombie / INPHO Jimmy Barry-Murphy needs his Cork team to produce a big summer James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

2. Davy Fitzgerald (Clare)

Clare’s 2015 Allianz hurling league campaign was a forgettable one as the Banner County slumped to relegation from Division 1A.

Davy O’Halloran’s very public criticism of team management didn’t help either but Clare have ducked their heads back under the parapet and are reportedly a united bunch ahead of the Munster SHC quarter-final crunch with Limerick next Sunday.

But Fitzgerald will have to plan without ace forward Conor McGrath, who is almost certainly ruled out through injury.

Defender Cian Dillon is also a doubt and Fitzgerald must also plug the hole created by Colm Galvin’s decision to spend the summer in Boston.

But Clare were All-Ireland champions in 2013 and with a host of successful U21s to call upon, the future remains bright.

Davy Fitzgerald Cathal Noonan / INPHO Davy Fitzgerald will be aiming for a repeat of Clare's 2013 All-Ireland success Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

3. Anthony Cunningham (Galway)

Will the real Galway please stand up?

Another League campaign came and went without the Tribesmen making any serious impact, as they were dumped out at the quarter-final stage by eventual winners Waterford.

And having flattered to deceive in championship hurling since contesting the 2012 All-Ireland final against Kilkenny, Cunningham desperately needs his players to produce a big summer.

Galway blew a six-point lead in last year’s qualifier defeat against Tipperary, losing by nine as the Jekyll and Hyde nature of their play surfaced yet again in the final 20 minutes.

And for a hurling county of Galway’s stature, no Liam MacCarthy Cup win since 1988 is far too great a famine.

Anthony Cunningham Mike Shaughnessy / INPHO Anthony Cunningham's Galway have struggled to make a championship impact since 2012 Mike Shaughnessy / INPHO / INPHO

4. Liam Dunne (Wexford)

Wexford narrowly failed to gain promotion from Division 1B of the Allianz Hurling League but have been making steady progress under the tutelage of 1996 All-Ireland winner Liam Dunne.

The Slaneysiders stunned Clare in last year’s qualifiers and after scoring another notable victory in a South-East derby against Waterford, they were giving a real spanking by Limerick in the quarter-finals.

The appearance of the county’s U21s in an All-Ireland final against champions Clare fuelled optimism that good things could be just around the corner at senior level.

And Wexford do possess enough quality around the pitch to leave their mark on championship 2015.

To make an impact in Leinster, they’ll have to first negotiate a quarter-final fixture before facing down provincial and All-Ireland champions Kilkenny in the semi-finals.

Liam Dunne Cathal Noonan / INPHO Liam Dunne is aiming for further progress with the Wexford senior hurlers Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

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5. Eamon O’Shea (Tipperary)

This is O’Shea’s final season in charge of Tipperary before he hands over the reins to assistant boss Michael Ryan.

The Kilruane MacDonaghs man brought Tipp to within a puck of a ball of an All-Ireland title last year but he will view anything less than Liam MacCarthy Cup glory as a disappointment.

O’Shea will also target a very first victory in the Munster SHC as manager, as the Premier County were bounced out of the provincial series at the first hurdle by Limerick in 2013 and 2014.

The 2010 All-Ireland winning coach certainly has the personnel at his disposal to go all the way and the Tipperary players will be anxious to repay the faith that their manager has shown in them.

And Tipp’s first All-Ireland success in five years, if it happens, would be a fitting way for O’Shea to sign off.

Eamon O'Shea Eamon O'Shea wants to sign off as Tipperary manager with an All-Ireland senior title

6. Brian Whelahan (Offaly)

Offaly did enough to retain Division 1B status in the Allianz Hurling League, with victory over Limerick the undoubted highlight of their group campaign.

But the Faithful County were well-beaten by Tipperary in the quarter-finals as the vast gulf in class between the two sides was starkly illustrated.

Offaly were 0-4 to 1-14 adrift at half-time but did rally to outscore their illustrious visitors by 0-9 to 0-2 in the second half, as Tipp were reduced to 13 men.

But Whelahan’s Offaly still remain hugely reliant on ace marksman Shane Dooley for scores and they were wiped out by Kilkenny in Sky TV’s first live championship broadcast last year.

A Leinster championship quarter-final against a team progressing from the early stages of the provincial series will be a tricky fixture for Offaly.

Brian Whelahan Cathal Noonan / INPHO Offaly legend Brian Whelahan is trying to transform the fortunes of the county's senior hurling team Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

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