Padraic Maher has hailed manager Eamon O’Shea for turning around Tipperary’s fortunes.
O’Shea’s charges would have been consigned to a relegation play-off had Niall McMorrow taken a point from a late free in their last group outing against Dublin, rather than drop the ball short in search of a goal.
Tipp had been the subject of some scathing criticism prior to that, not least from their own supporters, and there was little in the way of positivity around the county. That did not extend to the set-up itself though.
“There was a lot of stuff said, especially after those middle three league games” recalls Maher. “We weren’t playing that well but you put it to the back of your mind.
“Eamon was very good around that time and the management team and backroom kept us focused on our goals. Thankfully, we came out of it a better side. It’s always great to get the backing of the manager, he is seeing what is going on in training every Tuesday and Thursday night and it was always good, even when the results were going badly during the league. He even said it publicly; he said he had no worries.
“Thankfully, we got that bit of luck against Dublin and we kind of changed it around and got a few performances and hopefully we can use all that and bring it into the Limerick game.”
O’Shea has looked to give the players more responsibility for what happens on the field of play this term, a change from last season that appeals to Maher.
“If there is a decision to be made during the game or if something needs to be changed then it’s over to us. We’re the ones on the field. We can see best what way to turn it and Eamon gave is that bit of freedom.
“He’s a brilliant manager. He’s a great man-manager. He’ll talk to each player individually. He’s very good at getting his point across. He makes it so easy to play for him and to train with him.”
Encouragingly, Tipp produced their best performance in the final and while it was a game they could, and probably should have won, there were clear signs the Premier County’s finest are likely to be operating at the business end of the championship, having failed to reach Croke Park last year.
“I won’t sugar-coat it, we wanted to win the game and have a national league medal in the back pocket going into the first round of the championship,” admitted Maher. “But we had a decent performance, (there were) plenty of positives to take out of the game, so we are happy enough we are going well into the championship.”
Like so many of the battles with arch-rivals Kilkenny in the past five years or so, the Semple Stadium cracker was played at a breathtaking pace.
“It wasn’t far off a championship game, when you have two teams going at it that way, and it looked like both teams were enjoying the game too,” said Maher.
* Centra marked their fifth year as official sponsor of the All-Ireland SHC and Henry Shefflin, Patrick Horgan and Padraic Maher were all on hand to launch their community hurling events, to take place in stadiums and clubs all over the country this summer. Centra will also be on the hunt for Ireland’s Brightest Young Star to get the views and opinions of today’s young players and the child with the brightest answers will receive a VIP trip to the All-Ireland final for his or her family! For more information go to www.centra.ie or find Centra Ireland on Facebook and Twitter.
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