In The Irish News August 16 1997: Wexford fancied to beat 'lucky losers' Tipperary
LIAM DUNNE'S duel with the rejuvenated Declan Ryan could prove to be the key to tomorrow's Guinness All-Ireland Hurling semi-final between Wexford and lucky losers Tipperary at Croke Park (3.30).
The Wexford man will concede height and weight to Ryan but still has the attributes to subdue the centre half-forward.
Overall, Tipperary's side, in particular their attack, comes into the All-Ireland semi with an unsettled look.
Len Gaynor and his selectors have made three changes in the forwards from the six which started against Down last time out. And the side shows five alterations from the team well-beaten by Clare in the Munster final last month.
Raymie Ryan, Aidan Butler, 1996 Allstar Liam Cahill, Brendan Tucker and Philip O'Dwyer are the men dropped from the Munster final selection.
Former Allstar Michael Cleary returns after injury to centre half-forward while further experience is provided by the return to championship action of veteran Conal Bonner.
The run-up to tomorrow's match has somewhat been over-shadowed by comments from Clare manager Ger Loughnane which suggested that Wexford had been guilty of some rough play in last year's All-Ireland decider against Limerick.
This has resulted in predictably indignant retorts from the current Wexford management and former boss Liam Griffin.
Wexford, thus, are certain to be fired up for tomorrow's clash as victory will mean a showdown with Loughnane's 1995 All-Ireland Champions. The Leinster Champions should get their wish.
MEATH'S legendary powers of recovery are likely to sternly tested today when the Royals take on Offaly in the Bank of Ireland Leinster Final at Croke Park (5pm).
Their at times bad-tempered provincial semi-final clashes against Kildare have taken their toll on Sean Boylan's troops.
Graham Geraghty, Mark Reilly and Darren Fay are all suspended which has meant that the wily Dunboyne herbalist has had to dream up more potions to outwit his opposite number Tommy Lyons.
Offaly, after almost two months of competitive inactivity, will surely be the fresher of the two outfits. The Midlanders' hunger also will border on the savage after 15 years in the doldrums.
Meath players are continuing to thrive on the belief that they were harshly dealt with in last year's All-Ireland final. That sheer doggedness should enable them to earn a tight verdict, although, as in most Meath matches, it is unlikely to be a pretty affair.
LIVERPOOL last night called on Steve McManaman to agree a new contract with them after his £12million move to Barcelona fell through.
The Reds had unsuccessfully tried to persuade the England winger to put pen to paper on a new deal before the Catalan club's latest bid for him.
Liverpool felt it was only fair to let McManaman speak to Barcelona, but now that the deal has broken down they want to resolve his future.
The 25-year-old's present contract, which is worth a reported £12,000 per week, is due to expire at the end of next season and Liverpool are anxious not to lose him then on a free transfer under the Bosman ruling.
McManaman was flying back to Merseyside yesterday from Barcelona and claims he is happy to remain at Anfield.
KENTON HILLMAN, the Instonians scrum half, makes a shock Ulster debut this afternoon in Dublin against Leinster in the opening game of the Guinness Inter-Provincial Championship.
And his club mate, former Ireland A No 8 Roger Wilson, is also an eleventh hour call-up as coach Davy Haslett's injury woes pile up.
Hillman, who started the season as fourth choice pivot, replaced Stephen Bell of Dungannon who suffered a reaction to a rib injury picked up against Richmond last weekend. Andy Matchett and Neil Doak, the principal rivals to Bell, had already been ruled out with hand and foot fractures respectively.
Wilson, a member of the full Ireland touring squad to New Zealand four years ago, comes into a reshuffled back row following the anticipated withdrawal of Malone flanker Stuart Duncan. Skipper Steven McKinty moves to the blind side to replace Duncan and Wilson is asked to lock the Ulster scrimmage.