There's been a poll running on site all weekend as we eagerly anticipated the start of the new format Munster Senior Hurling Championship. We simply asked who was going to come out on top in the round robin. Unsurprisingly, one team was way ahead of the rest.
While some of the other results might be surprising, we certainly expected to see Tipperary as the most popular selection. All-Ireland Champions in 2016, and beaten by a Joe Canning miracle score in the semi-final last year, the sheer talent level on display in Tipp means they should be the team to beat in Munster.
But it doesn't always work out like that.
When Michael Ryan named his team for today's trip to Limerick, some eyebrows were raised. Out was midfield talisman Brendan Maher, out was Michael Breen, out was Bonner Maher, out was Seamus Callanan. It didn't make a whole lot of sense, but surely there was some method to the madness?
Today, in truth, they were trounced by Limerick.
Two timely goals by Dan McCormack and Jason Forde made the game feel a lot closer than it actually was. In truth, Limerick missed chances, and gave away too many scoreable frees. They were doing all the hurling and were the far better team.
Tipperary managed just 2-5 from play in the 75 minutes of action today, a derisory return. In the end, Limerick out last
The analysts on The Sunday Game were very worried about what they saw from Michael Ryan's team. Tomás Mulcahy called it "the worst Tipperary performance for a long, long time". He questioned the team's drive and appetite, the worst crime imaginable for a hurling pundit. Ger Loughnane questioned picking a rookie midfield pairing who were both "cleaned out" by Limerick in last year's Under 21 Championship. Henry Shefflin talked about a team that had regressed since winning the All-Ireland two years ago, a team at a "low ebb".
Tipp will be hoping Kerry don't win the Joe McDonagh
— Shane Stapleton (@ShaneSaint) May 20, 2018
While there are obvious holes in the Tipp defence for Michael Ryan to worry about, the biggest issue for fans will be this perceived lack of desire and possible strained relations in the camp. As we remember, there were plenty of rumours going around about the Tipp panel last year. Some were obviously nonsense, but Cathal Barrett, who is back in the panel but didn't feature today, was dropped for disciplinary reasons.
Tipp could do with Cathal Barrett and Michael Cahill on the field
— Brian Flannery (@BrianJAFlannery) May 20, 2018
Luckily, Tipperary and Michael Ryan have plenty of chances this year to gather themselves and play themselves into form. It's certainly too early to dismiss them, but that was the performance of a team in shambles. Perhaps it was an off day. We'll know when Cork come to Thurles next week.