Munster Battle: Declan Ryan takes his players into provincial combat in Páirc Uí Chaoimh next Sunday. INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Ryan wary of potency and physicality of Rebels challenge

They have a Munster SHC quarter-final win over Limerick under their belts but Tipperary boss Declan Ryan is on his guard ahead of Sunday’s journey south to face Cork.

THEY MAY HAVE reeled in Limerick with a stirring second-half rally in their Munster championship opener last month yet Declan Ryan is not urging his Tipperary players to follow that blueprint for claiming victories.

Tipperary overcame a seven-point deficit in the last 22 minutes of that quarter-final tie in Semple Stadium but Ryan suggests that next Sunday’s semi-final opponents Cork will close out the game if they get into a similarly advantageous position. And the Premier boss views the comfort of playing on their home surface in Páirc Uí Chaoimh as a significant boost to Cork’s aspirations.

“You’d expect Cork would have more potency up front and more threat than Limerick had. Any chances that come their way they’d put away a little more clinically than Limerick did. Cork playing in Cork seem to play their best hurling. They play full of confidence in their own patch and we certainly wouldn’t like to give them that kind of lead.

“I don’t know Jimmy Barry-Murphy that well personally but everyone knows him by reputation. He’s a superstar who has huge respect from everyone, not just in Cork but everywhere around the country. He seems to have this Cork team ticking over nicely and it’s a happy camp.”

The manner in which they methodically worked their way back into contention against Limerick was heartening for Tipperary. Watching the county U21′s replicate that type of patient hurling to stage a comeback success against Cork in their Munster opener a fortnight ago also pleased Ryan.

“The U-21′s were very impressive. They weren’t playing at their best but kept battling to the end. Sean Curran, a senior panellist, wasn’t having his best day but got two chances at the end and had the courage of his convictions to score two great points. Bubbles (John) O’Dwyer also showed a lot of character.

“The senior guys showed a lot of character against Limerick as well. When it looked like the game was gone they all knuckled down and never panicked. They showed all the experience they’ve gained over the last four or five years. I think we’re in a good spot at the moment anyway.”

Tipperary’s potential route to All-Ireland success is challenging this season given the amount of games they have to peak for. Yet Ryan believes his players are in favour of regular action.

“Someone mentioned that 1966 was the last time a team won a Munster quarter-final, a Munster final and went on to win the All-Ireland. I suppose that speaks for itself. But I think these guys would play every Sunday if they got the chance  because they put in such preparation and hard work into their training.

“We’re delighted to have the Limerick game behind us. Obviously you know what options are available to you after a championship game, what space the players are in and how they react to the big day.”

Ryan is well-versed in championship battles with Cork from his own playing days and has identified the physical approach of Rebel teams as something his players will need to match.

“Tipperary didn’t play Cork in the championship between 1992 and 2000 but we did plenty times between 1987 and 1992. Cork had a huge team in the late 80′s and early 90′s. They were all over six foot, there was full commitment from both sides and they were great games to play in.

“Cork are as physical as any team I met in my playing days. If you look back at the great Cork players even of recent times, John Gardiner, Ronan Curran, Eoin Cadogan, Brian Corcoran in his heyday and Ger Cunningham the former goalie, they were physically very imposing men. I think Cork always favoured physically strong men in the key positions.”

Tipperary are set to name their team tomorrow evening for Sunday’s clash and report no  injury worries. Lar Corbett is back challenging for a place on the squad while Shane McGrath and Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher are expected to be in the frame for starting positions on this occasion.

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