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All Ireland Hurling Semi Final: McGrath set for a Gentle return for Waterford

By Micheal McGeary

Ken McGrath will have to be content with a place on the bench when Waterford face Tipperary in tomorrow’s All Ireland hurling semi final in Croke Park.

Chronic knee injuries will again keep him out of the starting team. The 32-year-old veteran of 15 championship seasons with Waterford hasn’t been training at full tilt in recent weeks. And the best he can hope for is to be introduced at some stage possibly in the second half.

McGrath is almost certain to feature in the latter stages, as he has in the Gentle County’s three championship matches so far this season. The problem is the near total deterioration of cartilage in both knees, the result of wear and tear, and which naturally restricts the amount of hard training he can endure.

McGrath is facing the prospect of two knee replacements when he eventually calls time on his career, although that’s not putting him off for now.

No such problems for fellow veterans Tony Browne, John Mullane and Dan Shanahan – who are all reported fit for the latest showdown with their Munster rivals.

Browne and Mullane are certain to start at wing back and corner forward respectively, although Dan Shanahan is more likely to be used as an impact substitute, like he did so effectively in the Munster final replay win over Cork.

Tipperary’s main injury concern surrounds forward Eoin Kelly, who is getting continual treatment on an old back complaint that has suddenly reoccurred in recent weeks.

Kelly is still likely to start, although it remains to be seen how much the back injury will inhibit his game.

Definitely ruled out is fellow forward Pat Kerwick, who is now resigned to undergoing an operation on his groin injury.

Sunday’s game marks the 38th championship meeting between Waterford and Tipperary, with the score 27-10 in Tipperary’s favour, although of the last 10 meetings, the score stands at five apiece.

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