by Jackie Cahill
Michael Ryan's All-Ireland champions Tipperary will not compete in the 2017 Munster senior hurling League, which is due to commence in early January.
It's the second successive year that the Premier County have opted out of the pre-season competition, with Ryan anxious to take control of the month of January again.
Instead, Tipp will embark on a series of challenge matches ahead of their Allianz Hurling League Division 1A opener against Dublin at Croke Park on Saturday, February 11.
Ryan and his players will travel to Miami for a ten-day team holiday in late December and it was felt that preparation for a Munster senior League campaign would not have been adequate.
Tipp have also committed to a tournament game against Antrim in late January, to honour the memory of the late Fr. Alec Reid.
In Tipp's absence from the Munster senior League, it's envisaged that the province's five remaining counties will compete.
Limerick, Clare, Cork, Kerry and Waterford played games on a round-robin basis last January, with Clare emerging as champions after beating Limerick in the final.
The draw for the 2017 competition is due to take place on December 15, with Munster Council officials hopeful that no other county will decide not to participate.
Ryan and his management team are due to meet with an extended winter training panel next weekend, where pre-season training programmes will be assigned.
Ryan has been working to fill the void created by the departure of highly-rated strength and conditioning coach Lukasz Kirszenstein, as it was confirmed last month that the Polish native has switched allegiances to Micheál Donoghue's Galway.
A number of candidates were under consideration for the vacant role with Tipperary and Ciarán Keogh is understood to be the front-runner.
Keogh is an accredited strength and conditioning practitioner with the Irish Institute of Sport and has worked with a host of Paralympic athletes since 2005.
A graduate of Setanta College, Keogh is an IT Tralee graduate who also completed a Masters in Exercise Physiology at Trinity College, Dublin.
He is a current lecturer at LIT Tipperary, in partnership with Setanta College, and worked with county senior hurling champions Thurles Sarsfields this year.
Meanwhile, Tipperary's players will receive their winners' medals from a hugely successful year in Thurles on Saturday night, at an Anner Hotel function.
In Ryan's first year at the helm, the Premier County retained their Munster title before winning the All-Ireland senior crown for the first time since 2010.