Hungry ‘Bonner’ happy to embrace the pre-match hype

He might be living in Galway but that doesn’t mean Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher is avoiding the All-Ireland hype.

“It’s grand to get a break away from it but no matter where you go in Ireland or anywhere in the world you are going to bump into somebody who is going to talk GAA with you.

“The barracks in Galway is very hurling orientated, we have Padraic Landers there who is on the Galway senior panel, Eoin Forde won an All-Ireland medal with Clarinbridge so once you go into the barracks the GAA talk goes on there as well so there is no getting away from it.

“You always want to be there on All-Ireland final day, you have to be in that mind-set. I want to be there every year because if you don’t have that you won’t be driven and you have to be driving towards something. Every inter-county player is driven towards getting to an All-Ireland final.

“Looking at it [last year], it was a replay as well. It was odd looking in at it because you want to be involved but it can help towards gearing yourself and giving it a lash next year.”

After the disappointment of last year he’s glad to be in a final again.

“It’s a great feeling. It’s something you build towards when you are young, playing in the front yard at home. It’s every child’s dream to go on and play in an All-Ireland final and I count myself lucky to be playing in another All-Ireland final.

“Last year we were disappointed but we can’t dwell on the past. We have no regrets, you can only learn lessons from the past.”

Having sustained a freak rib injury in the All-Ireland semi-final warm-up, he’s fully fit again now.

“The ribs are 100%,” he said. “It was a light knock, I just needed a few days off. It was sore but I wanted to stay on as long as I could. When you are playing in an All-Ireland semi-final and you are winning you don’t really want to leave the field.”

He doesn’t feel joining the army blunted his touch last year: “I don’t think it did.

“Last year wasn’t the best year I ever had in a county jersey. You could blame a lot of things but I don’t blame anything. It was just an off year, people have them.

“It’s just one of those things that happen, everyone goes through a bad patch, last year was mine. The training I was doing was difficult, and being away from the set-up myself when I was pursuing my career, but it wasn’t my job that was affecting my hurling.”

Maher doesn’t see Sunday as different because it’s Kilkenny.

“I approach every game the same; looking forward to every game,” he said. “The fact that we are playing Kilkenny is nothing to me. People will say there is a rivalry there, maybe there is but it heightens a little bit, they bring the best out of us and we bring the best out of them as well.”

He’s tried to get a little bit more out of himself this year for the cause.

“I used to run a bit of cross-country; on my mother’s side would have been a very athletic family and this year I did a little bit of training on my own with a few runners in Galway. Two boys that gave me a lot of help in terms of getting me quicker and I think it is standing to me a little as well.

“I enjoy being a Tipp player. We have got a great unit there at the moment. When you put yourself out there playing GAA or in any sport you are open for criticism but you have to take it.

“When results don’t go your way there is not much you can do about it. You can only learn from it, you can’t be dwelling on the past or have regrets.”

In the great tradition of inter-county players, the number on his jersey doesn’t matter.

“I don’t mind where I play once I get a jersey from 1-15, especially for an All-Ireland.

“John Troy was a great playmaker, very skilful and I enjoyed watching him. The same with Declan Ryan and they would have been heroes of mine when I was younger. That’s why I like playing centre forward because both players played there.

“I was injured [in the All-Ireland semi-final] and wasn’t able to run. It’s the only reason I went in corner forward as I wasn’t going to be able to cover much ground out the field that’s why they moved me in.”

Will they move him out next Sunday? Not long to wait now.

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