Hurling’s dress rehearsal “doesn’t count”

Hurling’s dress rehearsal “doesn’t count”

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tipperary are heading into the Cat’s lair for Sunday week’s Allianz Hurling League final, facing reigning league and All-Ireland champions Kilkenny in what many feel might well be a full dress rehearsal for this year’s All-Ireland final.

By Diarmuid O’Flynn Irish Examiner

A win would be oh so sweet for Tipperary supporters, so long playing second fiddle to their not-so-loved neighbours, it would help erase the memory of the most recent heavy loss, that All-Ireland semi-final hammering of last year.

For Tipperary assistant manager Michael Ryan however, those memories are already just that — memories.

“Inevitably a lot of conversations are drawn back to 2012,” he said.

“We just try to reassure the guys that look, that was last year. Does it count, really and truly? No it doesn’t. That title is won, it’s sitting down in Kilkenny. Move on. That’s how we’ve approached it. We can’t live in the past. None of us can. And why would you?

“We live for today and we emphasise that all the time in terms of the decisions we make, what you do with your life. It only counts from now on. We believe that.

“That’s coming from the management team, players have 100% bought into that. Each game is there on its own merit.

“If you’d told us last October or November when we were making plans as to how you’d structure out the league, we’re exactly where we want to be.”

No fear, says Michael, that’s how you’ve got to approach games like this: get your head right. Fail to do that and even the best teams can be beaten.

“Take the Champions League the last few nights. You had two of the finest teams in Europe and they are 4-0 [Barcelona v Bayern] and 4-1 [Real Madrid v Borussia Dortmund] down respectively. That just tells you, take nothing for granted.

“You’re only as good as your very last performance. In terms of us going down to Kilkenny, it’s the best game we can possibly get. It’s no more or no less than that. It will give us a great sense of how far the boys have come, how they react to the challenge on several levels. How they play. We’re very interested in that. How they handle the actual tension of taking on Kilkenny.

“We measure that for its own shake. Is it bothering them? Is it sitting easy with them, are they enjoying this?

“Ultimately that will inform us whether or not we can ask them harder questions. Will they be able to stick the heat later on?”

Heat there will be, you can be certain of that. Kilkenny’s will-to-win is renowned anyway but a league final in their own house, against the neighbours? It would make a win all the sweeter for Michael, a Kilkenny-based bank official with Ulster Bank.

“All the better if we could get in there and take the cup out of their backyard to give us bragging rights for the next few weeks. I work down there. I need bragging rights!”

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