Nicky English’s guide to the Tipperary team

All-Ireland hurling final countdown: player-by-player analysis of Tipp’s starting XV

Tipperary ahead of their All-Ireland semi-final win over Wexford. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Tipperary ahead of their All-Ireland semi-final win over Wexford. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

1. Brian Hogan

Club: Lorrha-Dorrha
Age: 23
Height: 6’ 6”
Weight: 15st 3lbs

Has paid his dues by fighting for the number one jersey. Excellent under pressure in the Munster final when his saves prevented a rout. Puck-outs could be quicker but he’s had a good year so far and established himself well on the team.

2. Cathal Barrett

Club: Holycross-Ballycahill
Age: 26
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 12st 2lbs
@cbarrett2107

Back to full fitness and doing what he does best after the experiment of using him at midfield last year was shelved. He’s the ideal modern corner back, a tough marker and decisive defender and is back to his best form.

 

3. Barry Heffernan

Club: Nenagh Éire Óg
Age: 23
Height: 6’ 4”
Weight: 14st 9lbs

Has taken a while to fill out - I would have picked him out at Fitzgibbon but physical development has been slow. He has the height to take on Walter Walsh, as he showed against Lee Chin. Needs to watch discipline - nearly saw red in semi-final.

4. Ronan Maher

Club: Thurles Sarsfields
Age: 23
Height: 6’ 1”
Weight: 13st 10lbs
@ronmaher95

Is there such a thing as a full back in modern hurling with most teams playing two up? Likely to pick up Colin Fennelly. Excellent in that role against Conor McDonald. As a great striker off his left, he’s very confident receiving possession and terrific on line balls.

5. Brendan Maher

Club: Borris-Ileigh
Age: 30
Height: 6’
Weight: 13st 3lbs
@bennymaher

The team’s go-to man marker, as when he sat back on Aaron Gillane and curbed his influence. Since coming back from the cruciate, he has shown great desire and has been physically imposing this year. This season he has shown his best form for Tipp.

6. Pádraic Maher

Club: Thurles Sarsfields
Age: 30
Height: 6’ 2”
Weight: 14st 13lbs
@podzo21

The bulwark of the defence. Inspirational in his catches and bursts from the back, for 10 years now. He’ll probably sit in central role and hit a lot of ball. Not quite as dominant this year and Tipp forwards need him on the front foot on Sunday.

 

7. Séamus Kennedy

Club: St Mary’s
Age: 26
Height: 6’ 2”
Weight: 14st 2lbs
@kennedy_seamus

He was outstanding against Wexford, very strong on the ball and a powerful worker at wing back. Also capable of finding a score, he’s developed into a really solid contributor to the team. Another with the physique to be a potential marker for Walter Walsh.

8. Noel McGrath

Club: Loughmore Castleiney
Age: 28
Height: 6’ 1”
Weight: 13st 10lbs
@GrathNoel

Really influential in Munster up until the final when he tailed off like the team but has recovered strongly. When John was sent off the last day, he found more space around the field. He’s helped Tipp adapt to the modern game. A key player.

9. Michael Breen

Club: Ballina
Age: 25
Height: 6’ 2”
Weight: 14st 4lbs
@mikeybreeno

Can look majestic on the run with the ball in front of him but doesn’t get involved enough for someone in the middle. If he could raise his game by getting on more ball, Tipp are well capable of winning the midfield battle.

10. Dan McCormack

Club: Borris-Ileigh
Age: 26
Height: 6’
Weight: 13st 10lbs

Not the force he was in 2016 because of injury and his athleticism has been compromised and not as free moving in past two years. Second choice to Bonner Maher as the foraging forward but he has the strength to thrive in close-quarters combat with Kilkenny.

11. John O’Dwyer

Club: Killenaule
Age: 27
Height: 5’ 10”
Weight: 13st 5lbs
@johnodwyer14

Outstanding against Cork but lapsed a bit afterwards. Moments of brilliance in his low catch against Limerick in Thurles and flicked pass to John McGrath the last day. Tipp’s most important forward just after half-time, getting scores and frees when Wexford looked capable of taking over.

12. Niall O’Meara

Club: Kilruane McDonaghs
Age: 26
Height: 5’ 10”
Weight: 13st 5lbs
@meara_niall

Has suffered more than his fair share of injury and found it hard to pick up form. Great ball winner, he created an early goal for Séamus Callanan when Tipp were struggling against Wexford. Ideally suited to going toe to toe with Kilkenny half backs.

13. Jason Forde

Club: Silvermines
Age: 25
Height: 6’
Weight: 13st 2lbs

His free taking has improved and is proving very reliable after initial career wobbles. The consequent confidence has permeated his game and he has been the scoring threat his under-age and UL days suggested he’d be. Magnificent striker of a ball.

14. Séamus Callanan

Club: Drom-Inch
Age: 30
Height: 6’ 4”
Weight: 14st 4lbs
@seamiecallanan

Could be the best year of his career. He set the tone in Cork going for goal immediately. Even on a grim day like the Munster final he nearly got three goals and his goal-a-game average is remarkable. Hurler of the Year elect if Tipp win.

15. John McGrath

Club: Loughmore Castleiney
Age: 25
Height: 6’ 1”
Weight: 13st 7lbs
@mcgrathjohn10

A key contributor in 2016. Injuries haven’t helped but current form well below his best. Still dangerous: touched just one ball in the Munster final and got a goal. A big performance will bring more goals and a likely Tipp win. Unstoppable at his best.

 

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