Maher driven by All-Ireland double dream

Maher driven by All-Ireland double dream

Tipperary midfielder Brendan Maher is hoping for an All-Ireland double in the coming weeks.

He has an Under-21 final against Galway on the cards on Saturday week, but his full focus this weekend will be on denying the Kilkenny senior team a famous five in-a-row.

The Borris-Ileigh clubman believes that Tipperary have the right blend to knock Kilkenny from their pedestal, and bring the Liam MacCarthy Cup back to the Premier County for the first time since 2001.

"I suppose there is a great mix of experience and youth there and I suppose the experienced lads would bring that extra bit of hunger there as well," he said.

"They have been around the block and they have seen it all. They've been through some hard times and some good times, so they are definitely guiding us through it.

"We are just looking to bring Liam MacCarthy back to Tipp."

Maher is set to be named in the Tipperary starting line-up tonight, despite suffering an injury scare during a squad session last weekend. He injured his wrist but it is not serious enough to put him out of the final.

Of course Maher is also hoping the Cross of Cashel trophy comes his side's way in the coming weeks - the All-Ireland Under-21 decider against Galway is on the horizon. So is it proving to be a distraction for the talented 21-year-old?

"We've had to do the same thing all year," he explained.

"The Under-21 games have come close after senior games. We're used to it at this stage.

"We have to concentrate on the senior game and we'll have five or six days to build up for the Under-21 final.

"In fairness to Liam (Sheedy) he does give us the few nights off after the senior games. Normally we don't train the week after a Championship (match)."

The elder statesmen of Tipp's senior panel - those 22 players over the age of 21 - would believe that they are as much a part of the U-21 squad's drive for a first All-Ireland title at the age grade since 1995.

Maher agreed that both squads mix like 'one big happy family.'

"There is one big group there between the U-21s and the seniors. There are a lot of the U-21s would be coming in for the internal matches," he added.

"We have played against each other, U-21s against the seniors. I wouldn't see it as different, it's almost like the same set-up."

The Munster route was tough for the Tipp U-21s, but a 2-32 to 1-7 demolition of Antrim in the recent All-Ireland semi-final did neither the Saffrons nor Tipperary any real favours.

Maher is just glad to be priming himself for two big All-Ireland finals in the space of six days at the beginning of September.

"The game against Antrim was just about getting to another All-Ireland final, and we have two to look forward to now in the space of a week.

"The buzz is good around the county at the moment, but we will be accepting nothing less than two All-Ireland medals!"

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