Tipperary’s 2001 All-Ireland winner Conor Gleeson wants to see his native county put an extra emphasis on winning the physical battles against Laois on Sunday.
Gleeson coached Laois in 2017 and ‘18 when he worked with Éamonn Kelly and is thrilled by their achievements in the past month.
However, he still expects Tipperary to win the All-Ireland quarter-final and is keen to see Liam Sheedy’s men vary their play in the wake of their Munster final disappointment in Limerick.
“If Tipperary were playing their third weekend in a row, this would be difficult for them,” says the Boherlahan-Dualla man.
“I would expect Tipp to win but I hope Laois give a really good account of themselves. The start of the game is going to be very important for Laois — they got a great start against Dublin and never went behind and it gave them great belief.
“Tipp need to win the battles first and foremost. If they’re second to the ball then Laois have the players to do the damage.
“But the element of surprise about Laois is gone and Tipp will be mentally tuned in and prepared for this.
“We were outmuscled by Limerick, we didn’t win our own ball in the forwards.
“The matches before that, we seemed to have a great game-plan and were putting the ball in the right positions. Limerick probably played outside us and cut that off.
“We need to be able to change and be versatile in games. Whatever Laois throw at us — they’ll probably play a sweeper — we have to tackle it.
Gleeson scored three points as Tipperary strolled to a 21-point victory when the counties last played in Championship in a 2003 qualifier in O’Moore Park.
He recalled: “You always knew you were going to get a good, tough, physical, game from Laois. They have had some fantastic hurlers over the years and we never took them for granted, whether it was in a challenge or in the league.
“I don’t think the lads will be looking beyond them on Sunday either.
“Laois are on an upward curve and their belief grows with each game.”
In their first season with Laois in 2017, Kelly and Gleeson guided the county to the top of the Leinster SHC qualifying group before they suffered defeats to Wexford and Dublin. Last year, they finished fourth of six teams in the Joe McDonagh Cup.
“It’s well documented now that there are a few other hurlers that could be in there and haven’t for different reasons but there is great potential there and some great young lads coming through,” enthuses Gleeson.
“The likes of Jack Kelly, Aaron Dunphy, and Mark Kavanagh are serious hurlers and it’s fantastic for them to get a bit of coverage.
"We saw them playing at their best and we wouldn’t have been surprised at all (by the win over Dublin).
"Paddy Purcell and Ross King are excellent players and (Stephen) “Picky” Maher and a couple of others had success with Carlow IT and other colleges.”