Tipperary manager Eamon O’Shea names Shane Bourke at corner forward for league semi-final
Pádraic Maher at fullback as Eoin Kelly set for bench
Shane Bourke takes over from Eoin Kelly at corner forward for Tipperary’s semi-final clash with Dublin in Thurles. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Tipperary may be struggling with a number of injuries, most notably to Eoin Kelly, but manager Eamon O’Shea has still named a strong side to face Dublin in the National Hurling League semi-final at Semple Stadium on Sunday.
Kelly’s hamstring strain sees him replaced at corner forward by Shane Bourke, with O’Shea making a number of positional switches from the side that beat Clare last month. Kelly is expected to make the bench.
The most surprising change has Pádraic Maher at fullback instead of veteran Paul Curran, while Brendan and Donagh Maher are named either side of centre back Conor O’Mahony.
Noel McGrath switches from the full-forward line to midfield alongside team captain Shane McGrath, while Patrick Maher and Séamus Callanan are to start on the wings, with Lar Corbett retained at centre forward.
John O’Dwyer (back), Brian O’Meara (groin) and John O’Brien (finger) were also not considered due to injury.
Brendan Cummins, on the cusp of his 19th championship campaign, will resume goalkeeping duties as Darren Gleeson makes way. Cummins will be 38 next month but O’Shea’s rotational policy has the pair sharing the number one jersey during the spring.
Dublin manager Anthony Daly will release his team today, as will Kilkenny and Galway, who contest the other semi-final.
Kilkenny will not have manager Brian Cody, still recovering from a heart operation, patrolling the sideline, while Henry Shefflin (foot operation), TJ Reid (shattered kneecap) and Michael Fennelly (hamstring) are also unavailable.
Speaking earlier this week, Fennelly was adamant Cody’s absence is not a major issue. “No, there are a good few of us that are there seven, eight, nine years so it is up to us to take it on and drive it on,” said the 28-year-old two-time All Star midfielder. “It’s only league, it might be different if it was the championship, but it’s early days so we will just make sure we do not pause or freeze, just keep going, keep improving.”
Fennelly said the recent removal of pins from Shefflin’s foot was a successful procedure but was unable to put a date for his return to full training.
“The important thing for him is to get himself right and obviously if he tries to play when he is not right, he will only do more damage. He is a smart man and there is a good backroom team there so I don’t think that has any effect at all. He still had two months to the championship.”
Reid, who sustained a horrific injury near the end of last September’s All-Ireland final replay, has returned to light training, while Fennelly’s midfield partner Michael Rice is struggling as much with tendonitis in the knee than last year’s career-threatening hand injury (sustained after a clash with Pádraic Maher in the All-Ireland semi-final). “The hand was looking dodgy and people were saying he mightn’t hurl again. But I was talking to him in January and he said the bone was forming again and he was looking good to get back.”
TIPPERARY (NHL v Dublin): B Cummins; P Stapleton, Pádraic Maher, M Cahill; B Maher, C O'Mahony, D Maher; N McGrath, S McGrath; S Callanan, L Corbett, Patrick Maher; S Bourke, P Bourke, J Forde.