Austin Duff will miss the early stages of the Minor Hurling Championship after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in Nenagh CBS’ All-Ireland PPS Senior ‘A’ Hurling semi-final loss to St Raphael’s College, Loughrea last month.Photo: Bridget Delaney

Minor Hurlers aim to start on the front foot

By Shane Brophy

The Tipperary Minor Hurlers enter the championship arena this Thursday evening when they host Cork in the first round of the Munster Championship in Thurles.

James Woodlock is going into his fourth year as manager, looking to improve on last year’s campaign where they failed to make the knockout stages, winning just one of their four games.

There are ten players eligible from 2023, captained by Holycross/Ballycahill’s Cathal O’Reilly. Preparations haven’t been ideal for this championship, particularly the poor weather over the winter months but Woodlock feels his players are as ready as they can be.

“Preparations have gone well,” Woodlock began.

“We started with a big group of players and obviously we had to whittle it down, so we are happy with what we have.

“Preparations have been as good as can be expected, the weather has played havoc in terms of finding venues to train but no matter what we have asked the boys to do they have complied with it and their attitude has been spot on.

“The weather has been appalling for all teams and facilities in Tipp are at a premium, so I thank all the clubs that have allowed us in on their fields for the last couple of weeks as it has been difficult, as well as for the County Board to try and get venues. It has been the hardest I have experienced in my four years.”

Added to the difficulty of getting venues to train and play challenge games was also the extended run by the likes of Nenagh CBS and St Mary’s of Newport in schools competition, which unfortunately led to injuries picked up by Austin Duff (shoulder) and Sean Walsh (broken foot) which will see the ruled out for a period of time.

“It was great to have so many schools going well, but it is always a risk when you play so close to minor championship,” Woodlock added.

“As a result, we have a couple of players with bad injuries that won’t be able to tog out for us in the near future and that is difficult for those players.

“But that is why you have a panel of players; you have to trust them.”

The panel is likely to be test more by the fact that this year’s championship format has changed slightly where after the round-robin section, the top two teams will progress to the final as normal, with the winner progressing to the All-Ireland semi-final and the loser to the quarter finals, where they will be joined by their corresponding teams from Leinster.

The change sees the third & fourth placed teams in both provinces also progressing to the All-Ireland series where they will play two preliminary quarter finals with the winners progressing to quarter finals against the provincial runners-up. In that respect, it gives all teams in Munster a little breathing room, but you don’t want to be the team that finishes bottom and misses out on the knockout stage.

“We’ll be going out to try and win every game,” Woodlock said of his outlook on the new format.

“From that perspective you are looking at the panel of players as the games come thick and fast. You need to find out what your panel are made of in championship hurling, and with the championship is, there might be an opportunity to do that as well to give loads of lads game-time.

“These are sixteen and seventeen year olds, we have some that are still fifteen until the end of December so in that regard you prepare them as best as you can and open their eyes to everything that come championship you have either talked about it or have seen what it is about.”

In his fourth year as minor manager, Woodlock has seen the ups and downs, with difficult campaigns in 2021 and 2023 sandwiched in between a Munster and All-Ireland win in 2022. There is always pressure within Tipperary for teams not only to be competitive but to win, and while Woodlock feels a lot of good work is being done at underage level, more can be done.

“A lot of it depends on the management teams that are in place in those development squads, that is critical,” he said of bringing players through that start out on under 14 development squads.

“There is massive work being done by the GDA’s, but we can always improve and there is no doubt we need an improvement of the type of player we are bringing through. We all know we can bring through the hurlers in Tipperary, but it is everything else around that that we have to look into the type of players we are bringing through, in terms of the proper values of Tipperary hurlers that I and most people like to see, whether is it seniors or minors that there is an absolute never-say-die attitude, honesty, desire and workrate is always there.”

Then there is the style of hurling with many counties transitioning to the possession game, but Tipperary supporters will be happy with how their minor manager’s outlook will be for his team.

“In this championship, we will be going back to the way we always play in Tipp and the way I have had my teams over the last three years is that forwards win games so give them the ball,” he concluded.

Tipperary Minor team v CORK

1 - Eva Sherlock - Kiladangan

2 - Cathal O’Reilly – Holycross/Ballycahill (CAPTAIN)

3 - Toby Corbett – Upperchurch/Drombane

4 - Shane Ryan - Killenaule

5 - Jake Donnellan-Houlihan – Nenagh Eire Og

6 - Owen O’Dwyer – Killenaule

7 - Patrick Ryan – Borris-Ileigh

8 - Kieran Rossiter - Durlas Og

9 - Killian Cantwell – Moycarkey/Borris

10 - Adam Ryan – Arravale Rovers

11 - Euan Murray – Durlas Og

12 - Billy O’Brien – Nenagh Eire Og

13 - Eoin Doughan - Moneygall

14 - Stefan Tobin – Carrick Swan

15 - Cillian Minogue – Durlas Og


Daire English – Father Sheehy’s

Ryne Bargary – Boherlahan-Dualla

Aaron Cagney – St Mary’s

Jack Cahill – Ballingarry

Paul Cummins – Ballybacon/Grange

David McSweeney – St Mary’s

Darragh O’Hora - Solohead

David Ryan – Holycross/Ballycahill

Tiarnan Ryan – Holycross/Ballycahill


Leelan Donoghue – Durlas Og

Austin Duff - Toomevara

Conor Grace – Burgess

Michael Collins – Templederry Kenyons

Patrick Hackett - Toomevara

Dylan Hennessy – Mullinahone

Conor Kennedy – Boherlahan-Dualla

Jack Marnell – JK Brackens

Patrick McCormack – Moneygall

Billy O’Brien - Toomevara

Kyle O’Dowd – Durlas Og

Philip O’Dwyer – Upperchurch/Drombane

Sean Walsh – JK Brackens