Bonner’s cruciate recovery, retiring defenders and Tipp’s pre-Christmas schedule

The All-Ireland champions are back in competitive action on Sunday.

Patrick Bonner Maher lifting the Liam MacCarthy Cup in September.

Patrick Bonner Maher lifting the Liam MacCarthy Cup in September.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

PATRICK MAHER MAY have become a forgotten figure in some quarters as Tipperary’s 2019 summer hurling journey unfolded but remains on track for a return to the cause in 2020.

Maher snapped his cruciate in mid-June as Tipperary defeated Limerick in the Munster round-robin series, removing a talismanic attacking presence from the Premier ranks.

Tipperary concluded the season with the Liam MacCarthy Cup in their grasp and Maher is on course to rejoin their ranks for the defence of that title as his recovery continues.

The Tipperary management are pleased with his progress but are not putting him under undue pressure

“He’s not long after his three month check up, so Bonner is just working away at a level that only Bonner could do,” stated Tipperary coach Darragh Egan.

“He’s delighted with his progress so far. We don’t have an official date nor we won’t for the next six to eight weeks either. He’s hitting all his levels. Bonner’s just an absolute brilliant man to train.

“We won’t be putting pressure on him. Bonner knows his body better than any of us and he’ll come back in his own time but we’re looking forward again to seeing him on the pitch doing whatever he can do for the months of January, February and March.”

Co-Op Raheen Small 5-12-19-79 TipperaryDarragh Egan (right) at the launch of the 2020 Co-Op Superstores Munster Hurling LeagueSource: PETER PIETRZAK PETER.P.PHOTOS@GMAIL.COM

Tipperary’s 2020 campaign officially begins next Sunday in the Co-Op Superstores Munster hurling league against Clare and they take on Limerick the following Friday night.

Hurling ten days before Christmas is a product of the anomalies in the GAA calendar and to fit it in with Tipperary’s team holiday plans.

“Players have been working away on their individual programmes and we’ve been looking forward to it,” says Egan.

“We’re going to see a few of the experienced lads, a few of the younger lads, maybe lads who didn’t see much action last year. Sunday Nenagh is a nice smaller venue, there’ll be a good atmosphere there and the following Friday night inside in Limerick under lights will be good as well.

“We go the 27th and we’re back into pitch training on the 10th of January. Off to New York and Cancun, we’re looking forward to it. The lads need a bank of work before they go away.

“They’re working hard individually there and everyone’s looking forward to the holiday. But 2019 is parked. We got our medals three weeks ago in Templemore so we’re just looking forward to 2020. The big challenge for us in 2020 is to up our performance levels. As coaches it’s ideal for us, we need to challenge ourselves to get a bit more into the lads.”

Tipperary have not finalised the make-up of their squad for next year but some products of their recent All-Ireland underage winning teams are likely to be handed auditions.

“Our panel is under review until the middle of January. Bonner had his surgery done. Ger Browne had a little bit of surgery done on his ankle. So we will be down a few players for most of the month of January.


“We will be looking at a few of the younger guys. We’re not entirely sure who yet. We will be definitely looking at lads as the winter months go on. There’s some great talent there.

“I think Liam Cahill, Mikey Bevans and his management team deserve a massive amount of credit for how they brought them two groups of players through. We had 12 U21s on our panel last year, the bulk of Liam’s 2018 team and they benefitted a lot from being with us last year.”

Two players who will not be in the frame are the experience defensive pair of James Barry and Donagh Maher, who have both retired in the off-season.

james-barry-celebrates-with-the-liam-mccarthy-cupJames Barry celebrating with the Liam MacCarthy Cup in Semple Stadium in August.Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“”Brilliant men and have given great service to Tipperary,” admits Egan.

“They will be big losses out of our dressing room, there’s no doubt about that. They were two excellent, experienced men in the dressing-room and we will miss them. It is a great opportunity for the lads in the middle 20s’ to step into the void left by them two boys.”

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