Sunday, Croke Park, 1.15pm (Referee: Alan Kelly, Galway)
Latest from the medics and management… It’s as you were for the Dubs with manager Shay Boland sticking with the same XV that played in the 1-16 to 2-13 drawn game three weeks ago.
Dual stars Cormac Costello and Eric Lowndes picked up slight knocks in the minor football decider last Sunday but concerns about their fitness were downplayed by the Dublin management during the week.
Conor McHugh and Donal Gormley, who also starred in the footballers’ win against Kerry, came through unscathed and will have their sights on the second part of a remarkable double.
Dublin: Cian Mac Gabhann (Kilmacud Crokes); Eric Lowndes (St Peregrine’s), Cian O’Callaghan (Cuala), Shane Barrett (Na Fianna); Eoghan O’Donnell (Whitehall Colmcille), Robert Murphy (Kilmacud Crokes), Sean McClelland (Lucan Sarsfields); Cormac Costello (Whitehall Colmcille), Colm Cronin (Cuala); Conor McHugh (Na Fianna), Cian Boland (St Oliver Plunkett’s-Eoghan Ruadh), Donal Gormley (Ballinteer-St John’s); Caolan Conway (Kilmacud Crokes), Oisin O’Rorke (Kilmacud Crokes), Paul Winters (St Brigid’s).
For Tipperary, boss Willie Maher has made just the one change in personnel with Dylan Fitzelle coming into the team at centre-forward as Stephen O’Brien is the player to make way. Although most of the panel kept sharp with club action last weekend, Maher has no fresh injury concerns.
The only new face in the Premier panel is 16-year-old Colin O’Riordan, a member of the minor football team which stunned the Dubs in the 2011 final. The JK Brackens youngster sat out much of the spring with injury but comes in to add further depth to an already-strong Tipperary squad.
Tipperary: Paul Maher (Moyne-Templetuohy); Ronan Maher (Thurles Sarsfields), Michael Breen (Ballina), Jack Peters (Kilruane McDonaghs); Tom Fox (Éire Óg-Annacarty), Thomas Hamill (Killea), Barry Heffernan (Éire Óg Nenagh); Bill Maher (Kilsheelan-Kilcash), Stephen Cahill (Thurles Sarsfields); John McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney), Dylan Fitzelle (Cashel King Cormacs), Sean Maher (Clonoulty-Rossmore); Tadhg Gallagher (Kildangan), Jack Shelly (Mullinahone), Mark McCarthy (Toomevara).
Checking the odds… Once again, the markets have Tipperary as heavy favourites to claim the county’s first minor hurling crown since 2007. They’re 1/2 in the betting, Dublin are 2/1 to go a step further and finish the job this time around, while a second draw is priced up at 8/1.
In the handicap betting, Tipp are two-point favourites.
Clues from the form guide… For pointers we need to look no further than the drawn game three weeks back, a tense and thrilling match that hung in the balance until Paul Winters pointed two late frees to secure a draw that was no less than Dublin deserved. Their performance that day proves the gulf between these two sides is not as great as the betting suggests, and Sunday’s reprise looks set to be every bit as close.
Still, both Shay Boland and Willie Maher will have seen plenty to work and improve upon in the intervening weeks. Dublin had the best of the action in the first half and led by four points on two separate occasions before Tipp pegged them back to three at the break. They showed the Munster men a little bit too much respect in the second half, and in the end, will know that they were lucky to get out of jail with Winters’ two late frees. If they are to cause an upset this Sunday, nothing less than a 60-minute performance will suffice.
For Tipperary, Maher would surely like to spread the scores throughout his team and will hope to avoid a similar dependence on the superb John McGrath, who scored 1-11 of their total from placed balls in the drawn game. If Dublin can keep McGrath quiet and reduce the amount of frees concede in scoring positions, Tipp will need others to step up and contribute.
Verdict: Tipperary. Just.