John O’Dwyer looking for Tipp redemption after tough year

‘Bubbles’ welcomes Noel McGrath return but acknowledges retirements leaves gap

Tipperary’s John O’Dwyer from Cork Institute of Technology, during the Fitzgibbon Cup Higher Education Championships launch at Croke Park. Photograph:  Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Tipperary’s John O’Dwyer from Cork Institute of Technology, during the Fitzgibbon Cup Higher Education Championships launch at Croke Park. Photograph: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

 

Forward ‘Bubbles’ was a key player on the Tipp team that ended the county’s three-year Munster drought back in July, scoring five points in a final win over Waterford.

But when they lost to Galway in their very next game, and parted company with manager Eamon O’Shea in the process, much of the gloss from the strong start to the summer was wiped away.

In fact, based on them contesting an All-Ireland final and replay in 2014, this year’s campaign represented a step backwards for the Premier County.

Speaking at the launch of the Higher Education championship draws, O’Dwyer didn’t attempt to sugar coat the situation.

‘Over and done’

Fitzgibbon CupCork IT

If Tipperary are to redeem themselves next summer, it will be under a different manager and with a new look panel. Michael Ryan will step up from his deputy’s role under O’Shea to manage Tipp while key quartet Lar Corbett, Shane McGrath, James Woodlock and Conor O’Mahony have all retired.

On the credit side of the ledger, football sensation Steven O’Brien has agreed to focus exclusively on hurling while Noel McGrath will be expected to play a key role after missing much of this year following a battle with testicular cancer.

“What happened with Noel this year, it was obviously a shock to all of us,” said O’Dwyer. “But he got himself right and he came on against Galway, now the result didn’t go our way but it was great to see that man get back onto the field and to have him for the start of the year will feel like getting a new player. He’s one of the biggest leaders on our panel so it will be great to have him there for the whole year.”

O’Dwyer outlined the considerable loss that 2010 Hurler of the Year Corbett will be following his recent retirement.

“He was massive for us,” said the 24-year old final year Recreation, Leisure and Business student. “He had no problem saying himself that he had his couple of injuries but from the mid-2000s, from 2008 onwards, he just turned into an unbelievable hurler. His goal scoring record talks for itself.

“When he put his head down, he turned himself into of the most lethal and the most feared forwards in Ireland for that three or four years. He’s 34 or 35 now so he’s been around a long time and he’s given a lot of great service to Tipp hurling.”

Unglamorous task

SigersonSt Pat’s

The All Star centre-forward has been made captain of the St Pat’s football team, a role that comes with the task of also managing them. He is taking the task so seriously that he didn’t travel with Dublin on their team holiday to Thailand. The 22-year-old outlined how unglamorous a task it can be at times, referencing a recent game in Kildare which the team bus was unable to reach because of low bridges locally.

“We were told it was a 10-minute walk to the ground but it was about 25 minutes and I had a bag of balls on my back with about 13 balls in it, falling all over the place!” said Kilkenny. “If the bus driver would just have gone under the bridge! They’re the sort of experiences you get. It was a new one for me anyway.”

Meanwhile, former All Star forward Benny Coulter looks set to return to Down football duty following confirmation from new manager Eamonn Burns that the 33-year old will resume training shortly.

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