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Ryan targets 'bragging rights' ahead of Tipp's league final

Tipperary assistant Michael Ryan says Brian Cody’s absence won’t have any impact on the National Hurling League final next weekend.

Padraic Maher and Richie Hogan collide during the round-robin match between Tipperary and Kilkenny last month.
Padraic Maher and Richie Hogan collide during the round-robin match between Tipperary and Kilkenny last month.
Image: ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

TIPPERARY ASSISTANT MANAGER Michael Ryan insists that the Premier County will carry no lingering hangover from last year’s All-Ireland semi-final when they face Kilkenny in the Allianz National Hurling League Division 1 final on May 5.

Tipp must travel to Nowlan Park for an eagerly-anticipated shootout on Sunday week – and Ryan is relishing the challenge of taking on the champions in their own back yard.

Tipp were hammered by 18 points in last August’s All-Ireland semi-final but gained a measure of revenge in March when they beat Kilkenny by 2-17 to 1-19 at Semple Stadium.

But with League silverware at stake, Tipp face the acid test against a Kilkenny side building momentum as the year progresses.

Ryan acknowledges that the Noresiders will want to win a national title on home soil but is quietly confident that Tipp can upset the odds in the all-ticket encounter.

Ryan smiled: “All the better if we could get in there and take the cup out of their back yard to give us bragging rights for the next few weeks. I work down there – I need bragging rights!”

Ryan, a Kilkenny-based bank official, added: “It’s the best available game at this point. It’s great to play Kilkenny – it’s exactly who you want to play. If you were sitting in Kilkenny now they’d give you the same answer, with respect to all the other teams.”

Ryan confirmed that forwards Eoin Kelly and John O’Dwyer should be back fit in time for the final, with fellow attackers Brian O’Meara and John O’Brien less certain to be ready.

And Upperchurch-Drombane clubman Ryan doesn’t believe that the absence of Kilkenny manager Brian Cody from the touchline will have any bearing on the game.

He added: “I don’t think it will have any impact on these guys. I just happened to hear a clip of, I think was it Michael Fennelly on the radio during the week. I know Michael well – we work together so I’d have an interest in listening to him. It’s just business as usual with these guys.

“Obviously he (Cody) is a figurehead and what better figurehead in hurling? I’ve spoken about our own structures but the Kilkenny structures are absolutely 100 per cent. It’s not for me to comment on anyway – their achievements are there for us all to see. I don’t think it will have any bearing on the outcome. I certainly hope that’s not thrown up as an excuse if we beat them!”

But Ryan believes that Kilkenny could be affected if Cody doesn’t return to the set-up sooner rather than later.

He said: “Nobody wants them to be without Brian Cody for any length of time. A couple of weeks will make absolutely no difference. Obviously, any kind of longer-term arrangement would make a huge difference.

“Yeah, I think it could change a lot of things in terms of the direction and the presence he brings. But that’s for Kilkenny to sort out.”

Meath (NFL Div 3 final v Fermanagh): Paddy O’Rourke (Skryne); Eoghan Harrington (Wolfe Tones), Bryan Menton (Donaghmore/Ashbourne), Caolan Young (Summerhill); Ciaran Lenihan (Skryne), Kevin Reilly (Navan O’Mahony’s), Davy Dalton (Summerhill); Brian Meade (Rathkenny), Conor Gillespie (Summerhill); Paddy Gilsenan (Oldcastle), Graham Reilly (St. Colmcille’s), Peadar Byrne (Ballinlough); Eamonn Wallace (Ratoath), Stephen Bray (Navan O’Mahony’s), Michael Newman (Kilmainham).
Offaly (NFL Div 4 final v Limerick): Alan Mulhall (Walsh Island); Paul McConway (Tullamore), Shane Sullivan (Rhode), Brian Darby (Rhode); Eoin Carroll (Cappincur), Sean Pender (Edenderry), Michael Brazil (Tullamore); Alan McNamee (Rhode), Richie Dalton (Edenderry); Graham Guilfoyle (Clara), Brian Connor (Walsh Island), Anton Sullivan (Rhode); Niall Darby (Rhode), Niall McNamee (Rhode), Ken Casey (St Brigid’s).

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