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Tipperary are preparing for a physical battle when they face Wexford in Division 1A of the Allianz Hurling League on Saturday, Ronan Maher has said.
Wexford have already beaten Cork and Waterford to sit at the top of the Division 1A table, two points clear of Tipperary, who went down to Clare before getting the better of Waterford last time out.
The two teams last met was in the 2017 Allianz Hurling League semi-final, a match which will be remembered for the clash between Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald and Tipperary's Jason Forde - both would serve bans as a result of the incident.
Wexford continue to improve under Fitzgerald and Maher accepts the Premier County face a difficult task at Semple Stadium.
“They have two wins from two in the league and Davy (Fitzgerald) obviously has them primed for a big championship," Maher is quoted as saying in the Irish Examiner.
“We’re expecting a big physical battle. The way they set up that’s how they play, you have to adapt to that and confront them with something different.
“They’re similar enough to Waterford with the running off the shoulder and they’re very fit at the minute.
“We have to track their runners and so on but we’ll concentrate on ourselves, on our own tactics, rather than dwelling too much on Wexford.”
Tipperary were beaten by Galway in last year's Allianz Hurling League decider before losing to Cork in the Munster SHC quarter-final.
After negotiating their way through the qualifiers they had the opportunity to exact revenge on Galway in the All-Ireland SHC semi-final, only for the Tribesmen to triumph on their way to the Liam McCarthy Cup.
Maher admits they were unable to carry their early season form through to the Championship but he believes it will be a different story this year.
“We lost a bit of momentum, we were going well in the league but Galway caught us on the hop, they were really strong and had an exceptional year," he explained.
“We never got going after the league final, we didn’t have that momentum going through to the championship. But Galway proved last year they were a savage team, they proved that last year.
“It knocked us back, naturally, we lost that momentum, but we just tried to recover as quick as we could to focus on Cork for the championship, but it didn’t pay off.
“We’ll have to have our heads screwed on this year, but I don’t think winning the All-Ireland the year before, that that was weighing us down."
eir Sport has live and exclusive coverage of 17 Saturday matches in the 2018 Allianz Football and Hurling Leagues. Coverage continues on Saturday, 17 February with 2016 All-Ireland winners Tipperary hosting Wexford at Semple Stadium in hurling's Division 1A [live on eir Sport 2, throw in 7pm], and Limerick facing Dublin at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick in Division 1B [live on eir Sport 1, throw-in 7pm].
Image: Inpho Photography/Morgan Treacy