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Saffrons will find Tipp too tough

WHEN Kerry did the needy, albeit unconvincingly, against Tipperary in Thurles back in May, Peter Creedon had a couple of gripes.

Firstly, he felt -- quite justifiably too -- that the referee had done his Tipp team no favours. Secondly, he wanted a change in the structure of the Championship.

"I'd prefer a two-tiered championship as well where the top 16 move on to the senior championship and the next 16 keep going in another championship," he outlined.

"There's too much money being pumped into GAA teams to have one or two games, then out."

A couple of months later and with no less a scalp than Wexford resting in the Tipp dressing-room, Creedon's men find themselves with just Antrim between them and a last 12-spot.



BURSTING

The Saffrons may have done a good job in bursting Galway's artificial bubble in Casement Park a week ago but the difference here is, that match was in Casement Park and today's takes place in Thurles.

It may not form the tagline for those Northern Ireland Tourist Board ads but the phrase 'nobody will want to go to Belfast' is less to do with the scenery and more a reflection of what an inhospitable ground Casement is for visiting teams.

Galway and their soft bellies found it too much to handle. Tipp might have baulked too but in Thurles? Tipp must be favourites.

Particularly so after captain Aodhán Gallagher's mysterious withdrawal from the Saffron's panel for "personal reasons" after the Galway win.

For Tipp, Alan Maloney returns at centre-forward to lead what is increasingly looking a menacing Premier attack, with Peter Acheson, Philip Austin and Michael Quinlivan all capable of capitalising on any perceived weakness in a team's rearguard.

On that basis, they should manage to set up a showdown with the beaten Ulster finalists for a quarter-final spot.

Two-tiered Championship indeed ...

TIPPERARY: P Fitzgerald; A Morrissey, P Codd, C McDonald; B Fox, R Kiely, A Campbell; G Hannigan, H Coghlan; R Ryan, A Maloney, D Leahy; M Quinlivan, P Acheson, P Austin.

ANTRIM: tbc.

ODDS: Tipperary 8/11, Draw 15/2, Antrim 11/8 VERDICT: Tipperary