TIPPERARY defender Paddy Stapleton says the Premier County’s preparation for last year’s Munster SHC clash with Cork wasn’t at the required level. The bad news for Cork fans is his belief they have remedied it this time.
“After last year people are questioning themselves a little more in their preparation. Last year we didn’t realise until the Cork match that our preparation wasn’t up to standard.
“This year the lads are saying to themselves, ‘am I giving everything I’m supposed to be giving?’ and I think we are.
“If you are finding a group of players who question themselves constantly, they have to be prepared for a match.
“We’ve trained hard, we might have started off a little later than other teams in terms of preparation but we have come up to the level we want to set for ourselves. We just hope it is enough for us to compete well on Sunday.”
So they know they are ready?
“I would have thought before the match last year that you did (know). I don’t think you know until your first championship match if the attitude, hurling, fitness and skill level is at the required standard.
“There are things in training you can judge it off but I don’t think you’ll ever know until that first match is going on.”
His memory of the first match last year, against Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, is immediate and stark.
“The thought was of ball after ball coming in on top of you. The pressure we were under in the match . . . in saying that, after that match it didn’t happen again.”
The corner-back makes a salient point about lazy assumptions of vengeance, however. “That’s too dangerous. Maybe some players will use it to get some kind of revenge but if you are talking about revenge it brings up emotions and I don’t know if going in against Cork that you can have that kind of emotion inside you.
“You have to be very clinical and cool in championship hurling and have your temperament right. While one or two maybe use it as some bit of motivation to do something in the gym or to go that extra few yards in a training session, when you get out there in the heat of battle there should be enough motivation and focus without having to refer to something from last year.”
If anyone thinks Stapleton himself might have some motivation after going off injured after colliding with Michael Cussen in the league against Cork, he’s quick to shake his head.
“That was accidental, you can see that in the replay. He is a huge man and I was opened up trying to move backwards and he was jumping forward and there was only going to be one winner there and it wasn’t going to be me!”
The articulate Borris-Illeigh man doesn’t favour inter-county players being wrapped in cotton wool during the summer.
“I like the club matches in between. I hadn’t played that much until a couple of weekends ago, where I played at midfield, and it was great to get a chance to open up the lungs. If I had to play at corner-back I wouldn’t have got that much to do. It’s nice to get a change. If you get played in one position for too long you might go stale. I love getting to run around out the field.
“Two weeks is about adequate, players need to be on edge, they need to have those tough matches. Club matches at times can be as physical as tough as
He is keen to point out that he is not angling for a positional switch, however.
“I haven’t played out the field for Tipp, maybe at wing-back a couple of times but you have to be a certain type of player to play at midfield and luckily we have four or five lads able to play there. The corner is stop-start, you mightn’t get anything for five minutes but after that you have to be ready to go as hard as you can; at midfield it is a little more robust as you are going up and down and you have to be ready to challenge for the ball.”
With a new management team in place, Stapleton admits “there has to be a difference” in style this year. They are different personalities. Cian (O’Neill, physical trainer) is the same so a lot of it is similar which is great. It would be more difficult if you went straight from one thing to another. Tommy (Dunne) is just slightly different (from Eamon O’Shea) but they have a lot of the same ideas but they are structured differently. We learned a lot from Eamon, Mick (Ryan) and Liam (Sheedy) and Tommy has so much experience on the field and in coaching. The message is similar.”
The message this week is a simple one: Cork, first and foremost.
“All I am thinking about is Cork. If we don’t focus on Cork we will be beaten.”
Picture: PREPARED: Paddy Stapleton says Tipp are in good shape. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
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