Sheedy: Time to make our mark

Sheedy: Time to make our mark

From gaa.ie

Tipperary hurling manager Liam Sheedy says that players have a chance to stake their claim for a place in his Championship side when they face Galway in Sunday’s National Hurling League Division One final.

The Premier County face Ger Loughnane’s Tribesmen at The Gaelic Grounds in this year’s League decider and after seeing his team fly through a successful league campaign, the Tipp boss sees the clash with Joe Canning and co. as ideal preparation for a tough championship to come and feels it is a game that can make some of his players.

"I suppose at the end of the day, if a guy gets a chance it’s up to him to hold on to the jersey," said Sheedy when asked if Sunday’s side will bear a resemblance to the one that will take to the field when The Munster Championship comes around.

He added at this week’s pre-final press conference: "I’ve said it all along, if we’re to be competitive at the business end of the Championship, we’re going to need two guys pushing for every place and the lucky thing about the League is that there have been a few guys that have got their chance and I think they have taken their chance reasonably well.

"Shane McGrath has established himself as a very good midfielder, Conor O’Brien has done very well at corner-back, Paul Curran was outstanding the last day at full-back.

"I think our defence and our back line and our midfield have given us the platform going forward to allow our forwards to get good quality ball in and that’s something they can build on."

Sheedy’s side returned to training early ahead of the league campaign and he feels that was vital in their successful campaign, during which they played out a thrilling draw with Sunday’s opposition.

"Obviously the fact that we’ve more work done means that when it comes to the vital stage of the game in the last ten or 15 minutes there’s a fair bit in the tank, there’s a fair bit in reserve," Sheedy said.

"That only comes about through hard work and there’s been a lot of hard work going on. We got together back in mid-November and since then I’ve had 34 guys in there. Their commitment in training was top class.

"They’re a very committed bunch and they’re eager to do well and thankfully that’s come out in their performances to date.

"If you’re working hard and you feel you’re improving there’s an element of enjoyment to it but as I said we’re probably facing our sternest test to date on Sunday."

Having been through a dearth in terms of silverware, a win on Sunday would be a huge boost to the men in blue and gold, but trophy or no, Sheedy says they have reached their targets thus far.

He added: "If you look at it there [are] three trophies that can be won. There’s a National League, there’s a Munster and there’s an All-Ireland Championship.

"Our aim at the start of the year was to be competitive in the League. We haven’t contested a League final or an All-Ireland semi-final since 2003 and that was our aim if we could qualify for the knockout stages of the League and then try and get into the All-Ireland semi-final.

"All you can do is prepare as well as you can and see where it takes you but I’d be absolutely happy with the commitment I’m getting from the bunch of players."

All the talk in the news this week has been of young Joe Canning’s fine debut against Cork last weekend, but Sheedy is not so naïve to think that there is only one threat from a Galway side who have probably been the best on show so far this season.

"They’re by no means one man and Joe is an exceptional talent and deserves all the credit that he gets.

"Our backs have done very well in the last two outings but the biggest test of our back line will be on Sunday. It’ll be a good measure for all of our backs and it’s ideal preparation for Championship fare.

"That day [when the sides drew earlier in the campaign] was a tough day for hurling. There was a swirling breeze. The ball was pucked at one end and was coming down to the full-forward line – it was hard to know where the puckout was going to fall. It was a surreal game. Galway had double figures in wides.

"Definitely in the second half, they had chances to put us away and they sort of just left us in there and fair play to Eoin (Kelly), he got a great score to make a draw of it. But every game is different and if you take the top six or seven teams on any given day, there’s been very little in it in any of the matches we’ve played.

"We drew with Clare, we drew with Galway, with Offaly there was only a puck of a ball in it with 15 minutes to go and we just took off so every game is different.

"Sunday is about a performance and about our own performance and it’s good preparation for the Championship."

 

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