The Division 1 final will mark his eighth visit to face Kilkenny on their home patch and each time he has come away from Nowlan Park beaten, the latest February’s one-point defeat.
Not only is Seamus Callanan the only player in the Tipperary panel to possess a league medal, he is also the only one to know what’s it like to beat Kilkenny there, having come off the bench to score two points in the 2008 Division 1 semi-final.
TJ Reid and Richie Hogan are the sole Kilkenny survivors from that game, both also having come off the bench.
Maher won’t like it but it’s worth chronicling Kilkenny’s proud record against their great rivals in Nowlan Park:
2009: Division 1, Round 4, Kilkenny 5-17 Tipperary 1-12
So flat were Tipperary that it was speculated that they trained the morning of the game although Liam Sheedy denied that was the case. Kilkenny were in brutish form, Martin Comerford scoring 3-2, the other goals coming from Reid and Aidan Fogarty, and the game was over as a contest by half-time when the Cats led by 20 points. Even at that early juncture, it was no surprise they were given a standing ovation by their supporters coming off the field.
2012: Division 1A, Round 1, Kilkenny 2-17 Tipperary 0-15
Goals in either half by man-of-the-match Richie Power and TJ Reid sent Kilkenny on their way to a second win over their neighbours in as many games to follow up the 2011 All-Ireland final. Power’s three-pointer came from a 12th-minute penalty having won it himself and the score put his side seven points up. Power finished up with 1-11, all from placed balls, and Kilkenny had led by five at the break.
2013: Division 1 final, Kilkenny 2-17 Tipperary 0-20
Lar Corbett and JJ Delaney were sent off after an off-the-ball tussle and would end up avoiding suspensions due to a technicality. Kilkenny defended their league title in reasonably convincing style as they moved away from Tipperary in the final 20 minutes with scores from Hogan, Larkin (free) and Cillian Buckley. Kilkenny looked ready to hurt Tipp early on but they needed two goals from Michael Fennelly to keep the opposition, led by an impressive Brendan Maher, at bay.
2013: All-Ireland qualifier, Round 2, Kilkenny 0-20 Tipperary 1-14
One of the greatest hurling occasions largely because of the atmosphere that enveloped Nowlan Park and its environs. The cheer in the 22,307 crowd that greeted Henry Shefflin’s introduction was mighty.
Lar Corbett was in superb form, grabbing a 14th-minute goal, but a hamstring injury put paid to his contribution. Eoin Larkin was marvellous for the Cats, helping himself to 11 points, and when JJ Delaney was on hand to deny Eoin Kelly an early second-half goal it appeared Kilkenny would not be denied.
2014: Division 1A, Round 2, Kilkenny 5-20 Tipperary 5-14
The 10-goal thriller but also the 10-point comeback. Kilkenny had been that far behind Tipperary, who were six up at half-time. Seamus Callanan looked to be the match-winner with a hat-trick of goals but Colin Fennelly stole it with three of his own, the last of them in the 56th minute to level the game. A Mark Kelly goal followed and Kilkenny had pulled off a tremendous escape.
2016: Division 1A, Round 2, Kilkenny 2-17 Tipperary 0-18
Before his season-ending injury, James Maher, with four points, gave a powerful performance although it was Kevin Kelly’s late brace of goals which saw Cody’s men continue their fine home stretch against the blue and gold. Reid sent over 10 points, three from play, as the best from John O’Dwyer, nine points, and John McGrath, who picked off four, wasn’t good enough.
2018: Division 1A, Round 4, Kilkenny 2-22 Tipperary 2-21
Starlet Richie Leahy showed great composure to score the winning point in a typically pulsating game in which they were four goals in the first 12 minutes of the second half. Kilkenny were obviously unfamiliar in appearance but then Tipperary started with just seven of the team that lost last year’s All-Ireland semi-final to Galway with only one of the attack that were squeezed out by the would-be champions.