Eoin Kelly: Five debutants in the Gaelic Grounds was a bridge too far for Tipp

The former Premier County captain looks back on Tipperary’s Championship loss to Limerick, talks Michael Ryan’s media ban and issues a rallying cry to his county’s fans ahead of the Cork game on Sunday…

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A lot of Tipperary supporters, including me, were surprised by the number of debutants Michael Ryan named in the team to face Limerick.

Five debuts was just a stretch too far, especially when you are going into the Gaelic Grounds. The way this Championship is set up, home advantage is massive. With the expectations of Dublin (v Kilkenny) and Offaly (v Galway), every other team has won at home.

Michael Ryan will look at that now and think ‘I probably got that call wrong’.

Add to that a few changes in personnel too with Séamus Kennedy at full back and Willie Connors – who was a corner forward in the National League – playing in midfield and it seemed to feed into the team’s performance.

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It’s like a pattern has developed for Tipperary that after losing a League final, they’ve failed to pick themselves up for the first round of Munster Championship.

The way for Tipp to fix that is to get their best team on the field of play and that would include the Brendan Maher’s, Seamus Callanan’s and Bonnar Maher’s of this world. I reckon they’ll go back to the old reliables and revert almost to their 2016 line-up.

It may be a small admission that he got it wrong with team selection last week if they do start, but that’s what Michael Ryan is going to be looking for against Cork.

They need to get in faces of The Rebels. If they don’t, then in the space of a week you could be looking at being out of the Championship.

When you watched Cork last weekend, they created easier scoring chances for each other. As for Tipperary on the other hand, every score seems to be hard work for them.

They don’t seem to be playing as a team. I’m definitely worried about Cork, they are arriving with a win under their belt and they can afford to lose this to an extent.

Even though Cork love coming to Thurles and won here last year, I still believe home advantage will get Tipp over the line. Michael Ryan will be pumping that loss into his team this week as motivation to not let it happen again.

Premier County public can Tipp the scales

We’re looking at not qualifying for the next stages of the All-Ireland if we lose to Cork. We’re staring down the barrel and it’s serious pressure on all involved with Tipperary.

I’d be making a call for the Tipp supporters to really get behind this team next Sunday. Cork are coming up on the back of a win. We are on the ropes already.

But, this team is still a very good side and it’s time for the public, supporters and former players to galvanise and really back them. This isn’t the time to turn on our own.

The supporters need to come in their droves, because this could be the start of something far bigger, if there are a few changes made.

Media muting

I said on Monday Michael Ryan should have spoken to the media after Sunday’s game and not doing so probably added fuel to the fire of the defeat. Speaking to the media is one of your duties as a manager.

I believed he’d regret not talking to them and fair dues to Michael Ryan, he admitted his mistake in the aftermath of the match and rectified 9am Tuesday morning. It’s great that we’ve heard from the manager now.

It should be done and dusted now, and I don’t reckon he believed it would get the reaction that it got. I’d say everyone – including Michael Ryan himself – is delighted that he’s dealt with the issue so swiftly.

It tells you a lot about his character that he held his hands up and got it out of the way rapidly.

He’s issued a rallying cry, like me, to the Tipperary public on Sunday because morale is a bit low in the county and our hurlers need their support.

Supporters will be very keen to see what team takes the field against Cork, because it will take all 15 starters the five subs to finish the job against them. Sunday feels like a knockout game for Tipperary and if nothing else, this issue will have added an extra couple of thousand in through the gates to see this game.

If it wasn’t before, without doubt now, this match with Cork is now the biggest game of next weekend.

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What do you think?