Tipp Too Strong For Munster Rivals Limerick
Defending All-Ireland champions, Tipperary kick off the defence of their crown with a first round battle with bitter rivals, Limerick. Ahead of the big game from Thurles, I seek out the value bets.
It’s rare that defending provincial champions go into the first round as 16/5 outsiders to win that game. The loss of Donal O’Grady is bound to have disturbed matters, and the loss of his tactical reading on the sideline is bound to be a disadvantage. Home advantage is also in Tipp’s favour. On top of that, Tipp’s league final performance, albeit a losing one against Kilkenny was excellent, while Limerick’s league form was abject. Tipp won’t be taking Limerick for granted, and it can’t be said with certainty that they didn’t last year.
Last year, Limerick shocked Tipp as John Allen guided them to a three point win at home in the Gaelic Grounds. A defensive set-up with their wing-forwards drawing back frustrated Tipp’s forward momentum, and a powerful finish saw Limerick home. Tipp will be keen to avenge that defeat and are unlikely to take the Treaty-siders lightly. Their aim of creating space up front, and being full of running to create goal-scoring chances is a game well-suited to Semple stadium.
Limerick have David Breen, Seamus Hickey and Declan Hannon back in full training and they are names that TJ Reid will be glad to have back. Their 1-20 to 1-12 loss to Galway in the league quarter-final may have contributed to the O’Grady debacle, but one of the positives from that loss was the form of Kevin Downes. The big Na Piarsaigh man is a force of nature when tuned in and his performance can be key to Limerick’s chances. Limerick will come out keen to prove naysayers wrong. They are a panel hurting by the dismissive attitude to their chances this season. If Declan Hannon is on form he can keep the scoreboard ticking over, while at the back, a barn-storming Richie McCarthy can lift all around him.
Tipp had a scrappy early part to the league but their semi-final dismissal of Clare in particular, and their extra-time loss to Kilkenny showed they are on the right graph. Tipp are all about creating space and goal-scoring chances, and with Bonner Maher grafting so well and displaying an appetite for involvement that is irresistible, the Tipp machine has the potential to win well on Sunday.
His potential match-up with Wayne MacNamara is is another eye-catcher. The potential match-up of Kevin Downes at full-forward at some stage for Limerick on Padraic Maher is mouth-watering too. If Tipp’s big guns turn up, and the hurt of last year’s defeat means they won’t lack motivation, then Tipp should have enough. However, Limerick will believe that if they get physically stuck into the Tipp forward line, they have a tendency to curl up.
The performance of Waterford last weekend is a caveat for trying to find the easy form lines from league performances. Even if Limerick do start at a thunderous pace, they lack the bench that John Allen used so astutely to see them home in the last 20 last year against Tipp. Again, the 2/7 is less appealing than a night being serenaded by Joan Burton, so the handicap markets deserve investigation. Tipp -5 is 11/10 and that looks about right. We’ll be a bit more careful and settle for 4/5 about Tipp -4, and we’ll go with Tipp to net first at 8/11.