Michael Cahill eager for action and Lar Corbett comeback
TIPPERARY may have marched pretty impressively into the Allianz Hurling League semi-finals, but there has been plenty of physical trauma, red card turbulence and other headline-grabbing developments even since they overcame Offaly at the last-eight stage.
Éamon O'Shea was already planning without the suspended Séamus Callanan for Sunday's Nowlan Park date with Waterford (4.0), while the injuries have also been clocking up, with Darren Gleeson (knee), Cathal Barrett (shoulder) and Kieran Bergin (broken bone in his hand) all recent additions to casualty.
But then came yesterday's double-edged sword of breaking news: that one marquee forward (Noel McGrath) will undergo surgery for testicular cancer tomorrow while another (Lar Corbett) was set to end questions about his own inter-county future by rejoining the squad for county training last night.
Michael Cahill knows all about enforced absences: he hasn't played a minute of competitive hurling this season following hip surgery in January. But now he's back training and craving game-time, "whether that's training games or club games ... to get me back up to pace."
Corbett, his Thurles Sarsfields clubman, has been busy himself on the rehab trail, trying to rectify an ongoing knee problem.
"I actually haven't met him in months," Cahill admitted. "We haven't seen him in a while, he's keeping to himself - I suppose keeping his head down and by all accounts getting his work done, that's the main thing for us.
"Please God we'll get to see him (this season) because he is a phenomenal talent. You want somebody like that in amongst your ranks, to be able to spring at any time," he added.
Looking on from a distance, Cahill took particular encouragement from Tipperary's 12-point torching of their Black-and-Amber nemesis last month.
Yes, of course Kilkenny were understrength and a pale shadow of the team that beat Tipp in consecutive league finals as well as last year's All-Ireland replay. But victory over the Cats - any version - had been a long time coming.
"After last year you have a point to prove," Cahill reflected. "You want to win as many games as you can - Kilkenny were just there on that day.
"We were under no illusions either. The Kilkenny boys were, I suppose, a bit understrength that day - they were missing the Ballyhale boys and that.
"We were very happy with the performance more than anything that day. The attitude the boys went out with, it was real workmanlike. It was an important win for us; mentally I suppose it was great to just get a win over Kilkenny."