God status won’t protect Sheedy if Tipp don’t start winning

God status’ won’t protect Sheedy if Tipp don’t start winning

Shane McGrath1
Shane McGrath
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

While Liam Sheedy may have earned a “God” status in Tipperary after leading them to the pinnacle in 2010, Shane McGrath feels his honeymoon since returning to the Premier helm is over and that it’s time for victories to be put on the board.

McGrath was an integral part of the side when they famously stopped Kilkenny’s drive for five, but it has been a bumpy start to Sheedy’s second term as Tipp boss, with three successive League defeats leaving them propping up Division 1A.

Losing to Kilkenny by a point in Thurles was a particularly bitter pill to swallow as they looked poised for victory, and McGrath (right) stressed the need for wins before a date with redemption in Munster.

“It was a very brave move by Liam to return because he’s held in such high regard in Tipp. He’s the man that got us competitive in an era where we weren’t competing. Liam almost has a God status in Tipp, anything Sheedy says goes,” the two-time All-Star midfielder said.

“If he’s not successful this time… and it’s getting to a stage that this group need to start getting results. The ‘Liam is back, this is great’ talk is starting to wear off, or maybe has worn off. This group need a win soon.

“This group haven’t won a good competitive game in a long time (they beat a 14-man Clare in the opening round) and the relief of that is massive for the group. They’ll get confidence from it and everyone will be buzzing again.”

Any time Tipp and Cork collide it’s always important but tomorrow’s Páirc Uí Rinn clash has added significance, with the likelihood of a quarter-final place and the possibility of more competitive games before the provincial round-robin the potential reward for the winner.

McGrath doesn’t buy the argument that teams aren’t placing great stock in the League and believes tomorrow’s victors are at a huge advantage with Championship on the horizon.

“People are mad when they say ‘ah sure they won’t really want to get on well in the League’, they want the competitive nature of the games. A vs B internal games and club matches are fine but it’s not the same,” the Ballinahinch clubman said.

“The Tipp hurling public are craving a win because if not, it’s more pressure for the next two months before Championship and people asking ‘Are we good enough?’ ‘Is this the right set-up?’ Do we have all these players we think we have?’

“Whereas if you get a win against Cork, we’re back on the wagon and can push on. Whoever loses is out in the cold for a long time before you play your next competitive game, and we have a couple of guys that badly need a test, like Cathal Barrett.”

With Tipp returning from a training camp in Alicante this week, Sheedy may opt to shuffle the deck but McGrath has doubts about their depth.

All-Ireland champions Limerick are the barometer and he feels John Kiely’s panel doesn’t rely on personnel in the same way that Tipp do on the likes of Pádraic Maher, Noel McGrath and Seamus Callanan.

“Where I worry is I don’t think we’re this unbelievable team that a lot of outside people think.

“We’re a very good team but we have to have our best players on the field to be that very good team,” he said.

“Maybe we don’t have the lads pushing each other as much as a Limerick have. They have the luxury of picking between lads of similar ability in each line, I don’t think Tipp have that at the moment.

“We have to be realistic, we’ve won two All-Irelands since 2001. We’re not this great team that everyone thinks that we can be all the time, but I do think we will challenge if the best players are on the field. You need a panel now, you really do.”

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