Colm Bonnar: ‘There was such a roar behind me from the crowd and then what a score’

TIPPERARY BOSS COLM Bonnar resisted the temptation to afford new captain Ronan Maher the chance to start yesterday in their first home game of 2022, but hailed his impact off the bench in their win over Kilkenny.

Tipperary opted to start with an unchanged side from the opening round win over Laois the previous Saturday night.

That meant Maher, who had come on in the 67th minute in the Portlaoise clash, had to be content with a place on the bench when the battle with Kilkenny began.

His hurling qualities were needed earlier yesterday, sprung into action in the 50th minute and the two-time All-Star immediately made his mark with a rousing point from the left wing.

The two-time All-Star was influential as Tipperary eventually claimed a one-point success.

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“Ronan obviously was very disappointed he wasn’t starting from the start. Our first home game and him as captain, he would have loved to have lead the team out onto the field but we just felt the likes of Dillon Quirke and Barry Heffernan, they played very well against Laois and it was an opportunity for them to keep their development going.

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“When Ronan came on, there was such a roar behind me from the crowd and then his introduction and what a score. It says, ‘Here I am, so don’t forget about me’. That’s what we want, we want players coming on and making a contribution and having that kind of attitude.”

Tipperary players celebrate after the game.

Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Bonnar is expecting changes as they rotate their squad for their third league tie in a fortnight, when Dublin will land in Thurles.

“We’re working away. The boys are going really hard at training and the intensity levels are huge and they’re doing the gym sessions. There’s nothing more they can actually give us.

“We’ll have to move it on a bit because that’s the second day we’re after putting out the same team, so we’ll change it up a bit because there’s other players going as well in training. As a management team, we have to make a few hard calls, but the bunch of lads there are tight and becoming more of as team as the games go by.”

New captain Maher and 2019 Hurler of the Year Seamus Callanan have been restricted to substitute appearances in the games so far. The Loughmore-Castleiney crew, who endured such a punishing club campaign with games in both codes to close out 2021, may also return to the fray.

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John and Brian McGrath were unused substitutes yesterday, Noel McGrath and John Meagher have not yet been involved.

“Yeah they’re all in training for the last three weeks altogether. There’s big names that are there with huge experience. We’re going to use that but they have been so commendable, driving the young lads on. They know a lot of the young lads would have sat on the line for the number of few years and didn’t play, so they don’t mind contributing to that. We want to see everybody hurling well for Tipp.”

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