The All-Ireland hurling champions are an unknown quantity having skipped the Munster League. Many of Michael Ryan’s charges will be back on duty as they seek a first spring crown since 2008 but the Premier County are without Patrick ‘Bonnar’ Maher, on active duty in Syria, and Cathal Barrett (damaged ankle).
Seven of the team that beat Kilkenny last September start with All-Stars James Barry, Ronan and Padraic Maher, and Seamus Callanan included with Brendan Maher, Noel McGrath and John O’Dwyer also starting.
Daragh Mooney is in goal; Donagh Maher, John O’Keeffe and Tomas Hamill come into defence; Kieran Bergin partners Brendan Maher in midfield; with Stephen O’Brien, Jason Forde and Aidan McCormack featured in attack.
Dublin start three of last year’s Leinster minor winning team (Patrick Smyth, Cian O’Sullivan and Donal Burke) plus former under 21 All-Ireland winner with Galway, Domhnaill Fox. Ger Cunningham has seen many experienced players depart including Johnny McCaffrey, Peter Kelly and Danny Sutcliffe missing. With Cuala’s All-Ireland semi-final leaving him without eight more, Cunningham starts just seven of the team that lost last year’s qualifier to Cork.
Gary Maguire takes his place in goal; while Eoghan O’Donnell, Chris Crummey, Liam Rushe and Shane Barrett feature in defence; and Niall McMorrow and Ryan O’Dwyer play on the 40. Sean McGrath starts in defence, Ben Quinn partners Fox in midfield with Oisin O’Rourke and Fionntan MacGib at corner forward.
Even though they won by 14 points last season, Tipperary haven’t beaten Dublin away since 1990 when manager Ryan and selectors John Madden and Conor Stakelum played. Dublin will target this game for much needed points to avoid the relegation fight but Tipperary should begin their spring campaign with victory.