With Tipperary’s injury situation, Steven O’Brien is likely to start Saturday’s Munster semi-final against Limerick.PHOTO: ODHRAN DUCIE

Injuries threatening Tipp’s ability to reach Munster Final

By Shane Brophy

Munster Final opportunities are nothing to be sniffed at, even if the prize for Tipperary if they are to beat Limerick on Saturday evening, is taking on Kerry in their own backyard.

However, one thing you can’t say against the Tipperary footballing fraternity is they are nothing if not optimistic and is why they will be gunning to be in that Munster Final on May 28th.

First of all, with Kerry such a dominant force in Munster, there is a battle to be the best of the rest and Tipperary would like to be classed as that. Their league standing suggests they are behind Cork, Clare, and Limerick, but Tipperary have tended to come good come championship.

The sides last championship meeting was the 2020 Munster semi-final when Tipperary needed a last gasp Conor Sweeney banana kick from the side-line to force extra time before Brian Fox kicked the winner to set up the historic provincial final win over Cork.

However, Tipperary will be stung by what happened in 2019 in Semple Stadium when they were raging hot favourites over a then struggling Limerick side who emerged seven-point winners.

That was arguably the game this Limerick squad under manager Billy Lee kickstarted their upward march which will see them play division 2 football in 2023 and will play in the All-Ireland Series, rather than the Tailteann Cup even if they lose on Saturday evening.

The manner of their extra time and penalty shootout win away to Clare will fill them up even more as they are a well-constructed team, built in many ways like their senior team, focusing on strength & conditioning with big physical players throughout the team and Tipperary will have to meet that physical battle if they are to win.

In that respect, the midfield battle will be important and where Tipp have been impressive in 2022 with Conal & Jack Kennedy to the fore against Waterford, while Steven O’Brien will be pushing for a recall following his himself cameo against the Deise.

Tipperary will be without Bill Maher who picked up a hamstring injury against Waterford while Kevin Fahey, Robbie Kiely, Mark Russell and Stephen Quirke are all facing a race against time to the fit, the latter three having missed the Waterford game.

Limerick’s power-running game is something Tipperary will have to be aware of, particularly Iain Corbett from centre back, and in Hugh Bourke and Cillian Fahey they have clinical forwards.

However, Limerick’s power game can be used against them and for all their impressive play against Clare, they did give up gilt-edged chances which the Banner failed to take and if presented to Conor Sweeney, Sean O’Connor, and the lively Mikey O’Shea, they will only be too glad to take them.

For Tipperary, not only is there a Munster Final spot at stake and the challenge of taking on the All-Ireland favourites Kerry, there is also the opportunity of bypassing the first Tailteann Cup if they reach the provincial final and with it a place in the All-Ireland Series proper.

A Tailteann Cup might be winnable but Tipperary football always aims to challenge itself against the best, even against the odds, and is why there will be no shying back from giving their all in trying to beat Limerick on Saturday evening.