Brothers in arms! Noel McGrath on the rise and rise of younger brother John
John McGrath has been in electric form since he exploded onto the scene last year.
HAD NOEL MCGRATH been born two weeks later, he’d have been eligible for another year playing with the minors.
Instead, Pat McGrath’s eldest son burst onto a star-studded Tipperary senior team under Liam Sheedy in 2009.
By the end of his second campaign the following year, Noel had a senior All-Ireland medal, two All-Stars and a Young Hurler of the Year award to his name.
If John McGrath felt any pressure following in the footsteps of his older brother at the beginning of the 2016 campaign, he certainly didn’t show it.
It’s hard to believe that 18 months ago John was largely an unknown quantity outside of the county.
His 3-2 destruction of Waterford in the 2016 Munster final quickly put an end to his anonymity and since then he’s left a path of destruction in his wake.
He scored 6-38 in his 11 competitive games for the Premier in 2016, en route to claiming his first All-Star and being named Munster Hurler of the Year.
The McGrath brothers struck 4-4 between them from play as the Tipperary attack blossomed against Wexford on Sunday.
But unlike Noel, John took his time making the breakthrough at senior level. Injuries delayed his rise to the top.
“He struggled a bit with injury there for a year or two and missed out on one or two U21 campaigns with Tipperary as well,” explains Noel.
“Unless you’re performing with the minors or U21s coming up along it’s hard to just break into the senior team straightaway. He got his chance last year and he took it very well and he’s continued it on this year.
“Everyone comes at different stages and when you get your opportunity you have to take it because if you don’t it can be gone before you even know it.
“He’s doing fairly well at the moment and he’s one of the players that have been added over the last year or two that have brought a bit more.”
John’s aerial power gives Tipperary another threat in an attack that continues to improve. After the weekend, Eoin Kelly hailed the “telepathic” understanding between the Premier forwards.
Noel says that’s down to the hours and hours they’ve put in together on the training field.
“We’ve been training together since January and for some of us that have been on the panel longer we’ve been training together for the last 4 or 5 years or whatever it is.
“You just get used to what lads are going to do with the ball. You seen there for John’s second goal, the pass Dan McCormack gave him, John knew the ball was coming once Dan was making the run. They are just the things you build up over time.
“When those opportunities come you have to take them because teams are so good that if you’re not taking these chances then you’re probably going to lose these games.
“You don’t get too many of those opportunities in matches, so when they come you have to be on your game and you have to be ready to take them and be as clincial as you can.”