WITH HIS LEAVING Cert commitments having drawn to a close, Jason Forde has been able to concentrate on matters with the Tipperary U21 hurling squad in recent weeks and the Silvermines youngster has been drafted into the side at right corner-forward for tomorrow night’s Bord Gáis Energy Munster U21 hurling final against Clare in Ennis.
In the only change from the side that defeated Limerick at the provincial semi-final stage last month, Forde replaces Eanna Murray in attack. Last year’s county minor hurling captain was not involved when Tipperary began their U21 campaign against Cork in June’s Munster quarter-final as the game clashed with the start of his exams.
“It was never going to be a runner playing against Cork,” revealed Forde at today’s launch ahead of tomorrow’s game in Killaloe. “I’d to concentrate on the exams but I watched the game on television alright. It was great to see the lads pulling it out of the bag though and I’m delighted to get back in since then.
“It was always my aim after that match to push on and get back into contention. The competition for places is really tough with lads hopping off each other in training. But I’m just delighted to get a chance.”
Forde may have been centre-back for the Tipperary minor side last year but his attacking talents were advertised in dazzling fashion for Nenagh CBS in this year’s Dr Harty Cup and All-Ireland colleges series. The North Tipperary school were defeated in the Dr Harty Cup final by Coláiste na nDéise but bounced back to lift the national crown against Kilkenny CBS.
For their seven games in the knockout stages since January, Forde amassed a staggering total of 5-41 which included standout contributions like 1-11 against Ardscoil Rís in the Dr Harty Cup semi-final replay and 0-14 against St Kieran’s in the All-Ireland semi-final.
“It was fantastic for the school to win the All-Ireland,” says Forde. ” We left it after us in the Harty final as we just never really performed. We were 40-1 before the All-Ireland quarter-stage but bounced back and pushed on to win. We showed really good heart and it was great for everyone in the area, all the clubs that were represented by players and the management that put in huge effort. Hopefully it’ll be the start of more wins for them.”
Forde’s involvement with the school teams has now drawn to a close and he is now waiting for his Leaving Cert results which will be released next Wednesday. He is hoping to go to the University of Limerick to study Business in September but for now the focus is on hurling and tomorrow night’s battle with Clare.
“I’d like to go to UL, it’s close to home and the facilities are top class but I’m just thinking of tomorrow night now. It looks like it’s going to be a really good occasion in Ennis. Munster finals are always great affairs and I think the atmosphere will be brilliant.”
Opponents Clare will announce their team later tonight but are not expected to many any changes from their semi-final win over Waterford with no injuries to report in their squad.
TIPPERARY U21H: Paul Ryan (Upperchurch-Drombane); Stephen Maher (Thurles Sarsfields), Andrew Ryan (Toomevara), Pa Ryan (Clonakenny), Willie Ryan (Clonakenny), Brian Stapleton (Templederry Kenyons), Justin Cahill (Kilruane MacDonaghs); Denis Maher (Thurles Sarsfields), Dan McCormack (Borrisileigh); John O’Dwyer (Killenaule), Sean Curran (Mullinahone), Niall O’Meara (Kilruane MacDonagh’s); Jason Forde (Silvermines), Cian Hogan (Lorrha & Dorrha), Liam McGrath (Loughmore Castleiney)