Ryan Byrne/INPHO Tipperary’s Seamus Callanan and Austin Gleeson of Waterford.
# doubt
Major injury concerns for Tipp and Waterford over star players
Davy Fitzgerald said Austin Gleeson and Conor Prunty face a race against time to be fit for the start of the Munster Championship.

AN INJURY TOLL that included two Hurlers of the Year and an All-Star full-back provided lingering headaches for both managers after Tipperary defeated Waterford in a hard-hitting League encounter on Saturday night.

Davy Fitzgerald said Austin Gleeson and Conor Prunty face a race against time to be fit for the start of the Munster Championship, while Liam Cahill is left sweating on a scan of Séamus Callanan’s knee.

“Hamstring to Prunty, hamstring to Austin, [Shane] McNulty had to come off at the end,” said Fitzgerald.

“It depends how bad they are. You’re looking from three to six weeks and Prunty is a big loss to us.

“We’re in a race against time with the Limerick game and missing two or three of them.

“Mikey Kiely will be touch and go whether he makes it back or not. Darragh Lyons probably won’t be back so we are down a few bodies. But no excuses, we’ll be ready to go in April.

“Playing Kilkenny next week, [we’ll be] without probably five or six starters for definite.

“If we win it we’re in a semi-final so I’ll be trying to win it. The team I have out on the field will be the strongest team. Anyone that’s not injured that can play from my first team will be going out.”

Cahill had hoped Callanan’s knee issue was a temporary impact injury at first but was left more concerned by the update.

“Séamie yanked his knee. I thought it was a slap on the kneecap from where I was standing but no, it was a twist or a jerk of the knee,” said Cahill.

“We’ll have to get a handle on that very early in the week. Hopefully Monday we’ll get it scanned and see how we go.”

Conor Bowe was withdrawn “as a precaution” after a 10-minute cameo in which the first-touch goal-scorer “seemed to tweak a muscle up high in his quad”.

Fitzgerald felt Tipperary were the better team although he regretted Jamie Barron’s 56th-minute red card for an off-the-ball clash with Conor Stakelum and what he contended was a push in the build-up to Jake Morris’s second goal moments before.

“The sending-off was a killer. Killer. We were right back in control, even when they got the goal… my honest opinion of that goal was that it was a push on Tadhg [de Búrca]. Tadhg thought it was a push on him as well.

“Small little things change games and maybe Jamie reacted badly after that because they got the ball in the back of the net. I thought we did really well for the first 20 minutes of the second half and then when he was sent off, they took control again.”

The Waterford manager didn’t contest the red card, his team’s fourth in four games.

“I don’t think we can have complaints about the red card. He reacted. That’s fine. A reaction is a reaction so we’ll have to take our medicine on that.

“Séamus Kennedy had a high tackle and got a tick. If there’s a high tackle, I think it’s a small bit more than a tick. All we want to see is the same across the line, that everyone is treated the same way.

“In fairness, Tipp were the better team tonight but I saw patches from our team. That is encouraging.

“For 20, 25 minutes of that second half, we were right there. Just a bit of discipline, it’s something we have to sort out.

“They picked off a few easy points at the end when we were down to 13 nearly [with McNulty’s injury]. Like 10 points wasn’t the result of that game, 110%. I don’t care what anyone says.”

Fitzgerald also took responsibility for how open Waterford appeared at the back in the first half.

“They looked like scoring more goals in the first half with the way I was set up. That was on me, the way I set it up for a reason.

“Everyone loves a straight-out six backs, maybe some teams it just doesn’t suit them and I think you could see we were pretty open in the first half.

“Maybe certain teams are just not suited to playing a particular way.”

Holding defenders in a deeper structure out of possession, with Tadhg de Búrca as sweeper, turned the game until that Morris goal and Barron’s red card left Waterford exposed.

“Waterford reverted back to seven backs, maybe eight at times,” said Cahill of his opponents’ half-time rethink.

“We took wrong options by hoofing it down the field. You had Tadhg de Búrca and Calum Lyons and all these fellas able to build from the back and it just took us a while to get to grips with that.

“Once we did, I thought we stemmed it reasonably well and kept the scoreboard ticking over when Waterford came at us.

“I know the sending-off came at an opportune time for us as well when we had a little bit of a foothold. It really gave us that extra bit of momentum to kick on.”

Having secured top spot in Division 1B and a League semi-final, the Tipperary manager insists his side will be going all out to win the trophy for a first time since 2008.

“There’s a lot being written and said about the National League and it is of a fairly intense nature week after week.

“If you get to a final, it’s only two weeks to the first round of the Munster Championship where ultimately every team is judged, in the summer.

“Look, the League is a national title. I have a lot of respect for the League. I’m fortunate enough to have been part of a team that won two of them as a player. Not too many players have them.

“At this stage, we’ll be going after it and we’ll be doing our best to try to get to a final and try to win it.”

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