The draw was made on Monday night for the 2017 Tipperary SHC and the 8 groups for the first round of the Championship have been set. Using the year end rankings I thought I’d look at how the draw went and who can we expect to progress from each group.
The group that stands out immediately is Group 3 which sees three of the top seven ranked teams fight it out for the two spots in the next round. Carrick Swans have been dealt a tough hand. Sars would expect to find a way out of the group in their drive for a 4-in-a-row so the Nenagh Eire-Og match up with Kilruane will be crucial.
Group 1 sees 4 teams all ranked in the Top 13 at the end of last year. Kiladangan have been on a hot streak winning 15 of their last 18 SHC matches ending with a county final appearance. Borris-Ileigh and Loughmore both exited at the Preliminary Quarter Final stage. Upperchurch exited the last 2 championships in defeats to Loughmore and Kiladangan so they will be up against it to try to qualify from this group.
Group 2 appears to be lopsided with 2 strong teams grouped with 2 teams ranked much lower. Drom & Inch and Clonoulty would look to be hot favourites to qualify from this group. Portroe finished 2016 with defeats to both Clonoulty and Ballina so they will be looking to overhaul those defeats. Drom & Inch started their 2016 group with 2 draws and will look to start faster this year.
Group 4 sees the match up of the cream of the South with Mullinahone and Killenaule being the 2 highest ranked teams in a tight group. They have matched up in the last 3 South Finals with Mullinahone holding a 2-1 win record. Eire-Og Annacarty will be looking to make amends for a disappointing 2016 while Burgess have only won 2 of their last 12 SHC games.
Roinn 2 sees very even groups based on the rankings. Groups 3 & 4 have grouped teams from the bottom of the rankings. Group 3 especially sees a dog-fight between 3 of the 4 lowest ranked teams remaining from 2016. JK Brackens fell hard from Roinn 1 losing heavily but have ability, shown in their only highlight form last season – a draw with 3rd ranked Drom & Inch. Clonakenny will be hoping to avoid second season syndrome after safely negotiating their first year in Senior.
Group 4 sees a tight group per the rankings. Knockavilla squeezed through the relegation battle in 2016 with 2 draws and a win. Lorrha lost all 3 games last year in Roinn 1 before suffering a 16 point loss in the North Championship. The biggest noise surrounding these rankings last year was the low ranking of Lorrha so maybe we should expect them to be the team to beat in this group despite their current ranking.
Group 1 sees Newport step up to the Senior rankings in what looks like a tough group. Toomevara won one game in 2016, which came against a relegated team, and will need to dig deep to climb back to their yester-years in Roinn 1. Roscrea fell from Roinn 1 last year despite not being outplayed in 2 of their group games. They will be looking to 2015 form which saw them win their Roinn 2 group. Ballingarry lost by 17 points to Tommevara in 2015 but showed consistent performances last year in matches against Roinn 1 teams in the South Championship so they may make this an extremely competitive group.
Group 2 includes Silvermines who avoided relegation last year after losing all 3 Roinn 2 group games. Templederry look to be the strong team in this group. They pushed county finalists Kiladangan to 4 points last year in Roinn 1 and followed this up by beating 5th-ranked Nenagh Eire Og in the North Championship. Moycarkey beat Kiladangan in 2015 but fell from a tough Roinn 1 group and did not find enough to jump back up in 2016. They ended the year with a heavy defeat to Loughmore but may be the dark horse of this group.
This preview is written based purely on results in prior years. Any discussion or input from Tipp fans is more than welcome!