Former All-Ireland winning captain Eoin Kelly admits there’s no hiding from the fact that Tipperary teams haven’t coped well with being champions in the past.
MacCarthy Cup holders Tipp will begin their 2020 Munster campaign against Waterford on the weekend of May 9/10 with a tie against Clare the following weekend.
They’ll have a three-week break then before playing Limerick on June 6/7 followed by a clash with Cork.
The bigger picture is that Tipp will be challenging for a first successful All-Ireland defence since 1965 with failed back-to-back attempts in 1972, 1990, 1992, 2002, 2011 and 2017.
In fact, 2011 was the only year Tipp even returned to the final after winning an All-Ireland, prompting Liam Sheedy to state in 2017 that ‘We’re not a county that does back to back very well’.
Sheedy added at the time that, ‘The scars are there for everyone to see in that regard. We have a habit of going to sleep after we get one’.
Kelly, who worked in Tipp’s backroom last summer as a free-taking coach, said: “History doesn’t lie really, does it? When was the last time Tipperary were lucky enough to get back and win an All-Ireland the year after? 1965. That’s probably the challenge. Liam likes a challenge.
“I can only talk about my experiences. We won it in ‘10 and Kilkenny, the greatest team of all time, were still knocking around.
“Cork did it in ‘04 and ‘05 but definitely teams are more up for playing you when you’re champions.
“It’s, ‘We’re not just playing a county lads, we’re playing the All-Ireland champions’, and they use that to get the extra percentage out of themselves but look, those things are there to be broken.
“Everyone would have said that managers shouldn’t come back, that your second coming isn’t always a good one, that’s what I would have heard for the last nine or 12 months but Liam Sheedy has smashed that theory to pieces.
“So hopefully under his stewardship he might smash the back-to-back thing to pieces because if there’s one man that can do it, he’s the man.”
Kelly captained Tipp to success in 2010 alongside Padraic, Brendan and Patrick Maher, Seamus Callanan and Noel McGrath. All five of those players won their third All-Ireland medals last month and Kelly is aghast that some might suggest they’ve underachieved.
“A lot of those, Brendan Maher and those guys, have played in seven finals, that’s a major feat,” said Kelly, at the launch of eir Sport’s new season of action. “Their strike rate in those is 50 per cent; they won three, lost three and drew one. So I don’t think that tag of underachievers...like, in my eyes, that Tipperary team and those players, I don’t know will we ever get another generation like them again.”