Double blow for Tipp as Kelly nears return

Double blow for Tipp as Kelly nears return by Brian Murphy , 29 April 2009

Eoin Kelly is still some time away from making his return to inter-county hurling, according to Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy.

Kelly, the prolific Mullinahone attacker, trained with the Allianz NHL Division One champions last night [Tuesday] after missing much of the league with a long-standing injury and should be fit to face Cork in the Munster SHC in four weeks’ time. He will play no part in Sunday’s league final.

"He trained last night. We thought he’d tog [out] for the Limerick match, but it is more of a sickness than an injury," said Sheedy.

"Obviously he won’t see any action on Sunday but we would be confident that he is heading in the right direction."

"The back is the back, it’s slow and he just needs to get time. We’ve given it time and it’s great to see him back in the squad training last night, but obviously the weekend has come just too soon for him."

Sheedy dismissed the notion that Tipperary are lacking firepower in Kelly’s absence, insisting the entire forward line has learned to share the scoring responsibility in his absence this year.

"Let’s be fair, let’s give credit to the other guys. We have won six games out of seven in the National League. You can go back two or three years ago. If Eoin Kelly wasn’t on the pitch, I don’t know would Tipperary be as competitive as we were this year.

"We haven’t seen him at all for the league. Eoin deserves all the accolades he gets, he’s a great player. But it’s not about any individual player either – it’s all about the team and the panel.

"I think it has allowed us to shift the responsibility across the forward line this year rather than just sitting on one guy’s shoulders."

Meanwhile, Conor O’Mahony and Willie Ryan have both been ruled out of Sunday’s league final clash with Kilkenny through injury.

While admitting the loss of three key players ahead of the meeting with the All-Ireland champions was a blow, the Tipperary boss said it will give him a chance to test some of his fringe players in a pressure encounter.

"I always said it, but for us to be competitive, we need two guys pushing for every position. We have a long injury list, but we want to focus and all our energy will be on the guys we have available to us.

"We are really focusing on our performance and also playing to our potential because we were disappointed we didn’t play to our potential in Nowlan Park the last day."

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