Former Tipperary goalkeeper Brendan Cummins believes that the reigning All-Ireland champions can’t afford to write off the Allianz Leagues campaign just because they have lost their opening two games.
Liam Sheedy’s charges were narrowly beaten by Limerick and Cork in their opening two fixtures and, while the manager has taken the opportunity to blood some new players, the two-time All-Ireland-winning stopper believes it would be a mistake to sacrifice results for the sake of player development.
“If you lose the first two League games, everyone starts to say 'Sure we won’t worry about the League at all now’ and it’s okay to be losing,” he said on RTE’s GAA podcast.
"I know Liam. That is absolutely not the way he’s going to be thinking. He’ll lay down the gauntlet to players, there’s no doubt about that.
"We’re looking to try to do this back-to-back, you don’t want any negativity around the group by the time we get to the end of February. You just don't want to be getting beaten all the time.
"Having said that, they are really tight games and Cork did exceptionally well the other night, the way they closed out the game.
"It was okay for Tipp last year. They got to the quarter-final stages, bowed out, no problem at all. If you’re out by the first week of March, it will be two months of a break, including the club month, which is always exceptionally tricky, before your players get a serious competitive match again."
As a result, Cummins expects Sheedy to pick a strong team for the next match against Galway in Salthill on Sunday week.
"Transition is always a hard thing," he added. "If you’re putting the likes of Mark Kehoe, Jake Morris, Paddy Cadell, Cian D’arcy into the team, you’re putting them into a game where they are playing a lot of the stalwarts that Cork had and Limerick had.
"When you’re learning on the job there are always going to be teething problems. These guys just need a little bit of time to bed in, especially with the older players coming back in.
"There have been a lot of positives but to have a couple of points on the board as well, just to take the pressure off, is what Liam will be hoping for when we see Tipperary again in a couple of weeks’ time.
Cummins also dismissed the idea that some players are holding themselves back with one eye on the championship.
"Playing my first League game every year, I was nervous as hell about it," he continued.
"You're in a competitive situation again, it’s the start of a year and you don’t want to be getting off on the wrong foot.
"Players are playing to their max. It’s not as if the Tipperary players are going 'it’s only the League’, they’re all going ‘I want to hold on to my place, play myself into a bit of form’. The other night Cork were just that little bit better and took their chances more.
"A little bit of work to do for Tipp. There’s nobody panicking, a few supporters might be getting excited but that’s always the case.
"I’m sure Liam and Tommy Dunne have a plan for what they want to have by the time they get to the first week in March.”
****Watch LIVE Allianz Leagues hurling on eir sport this weekend with Limerick v Waterford and Carlow v Dublin.