Lar Corbett is thrilled at the prospect of Eamon O’Shea linking up with Tipperary again but warns his involvement is no guarantee of All-Ireland success.
After a day of mounting speculation, confirmation of O’Shea’s part-time advisory role in Liam Sheedy’s set-up came via the county board on Tuesday evening. The Kilruane McDonaghs man attended training in Dr Morris Park, bringing himself and Sheedy together for the first time since 2010.
Corbett loved playing under both and he knows their worth but is wary of being too expectant.
“Just like when Liam got the job, there’s no big switch being turned on here that means Liam MacCarthy is going to come back to Tipp. We hope it does and with Eamon back it’s positive but I would hope it doesn’t put extra pressure on the management team.
“It’s a good news story but everybody needs time to put the right structures in place.
“We can’t fall into the idea now that Tipp are sorted. The players will be delighted and the newer guys who never got a chance to meet Eamon but heard of what he done will be too. There’ll be a good buzz around the place.”
The pace of Corbett in his pomp wouldn’t go amiss in the Tipperary forward line this season but if that is an area where they are lacking O’Shea’s strategies can help make up for it, according to the 2010 Hurler of the Year. Nor is he surprised that the Galway-based academic will wait to join up with the group until after the league.
“A lot of the time it’s how the forwards work together and how their movement is and how they distribute the ball among themselves. That’s where Eamon was really a genius. He was a real forwards man and that’s what Tipp need in there at the minute, a man who knows how a forward thinks.
“Eamon was big into making your runs off the ball and sometimes you don’t have to have huge speed because if you’re visualising those runs before the ball is there you’ve your speed built up. That’s where you will see Tipperary breaking the backs of other counties.
“A thing that Eamon used to say that was great for a forward to hear was ‘a backman has you until April’. By that he meant if you look at the conditions of the fields at the moment, it’s so hard for a forward with speed or to pick up speed. It’s horses for courses. That’s why the five-furlong horses are only seen in The Curragh a couple of months of the year. They’re suited to top of the ground.
“The backman loves this time of year because he can always keep you in his sights and you can’t get away from him in the shite and the muck.
“You’re gearing up to explode when it’s top of the ground hurling. So for now it’s about getting the team right and the personnel in the right positions and the speed will come. At this time of the year, I didn’t look like I had speed but I always knew it was coming.”
One of the finest examples of the off-the-ball running encouraged by O’Shea came in the 2010 final when Noel McGrath reverse hand-passed into the path of a ghosting Corbett.
“That was Eamon O’Shea’s trait, that’s what he brings to the table, how he would have spoken to Noel, how he would have spoken to me about being aware of the players around you. That came naturally to us because Eamon was in his third year with the team by then but if he wasn’t there they wouldn’t have come off as often.”
Corbett expects a bumper crowd for Sunday’s meeting of Tipperary and Kilkenny in Thurles and some of the Noreside contingent to pay a visit to his pub on Parnell Street, just off Liberty Square. Although there is no relegation this year, the beaten team will likely miss out on the quarter-finals and the three-time All-Star anticipates a humdinger.
“At the beginning of every year, the one game I looked for in the league was when we play Kilkenny and where is it on. Kilkenny coming to Thurles, they like coming and there’ll be a great bit of bite and energy.
“It’s only across the road for Kilkenny people, it’s a handy one for them and you’ll have an awful lot of people from Tipp there.
“A lot of the time, you know where you are after playing Kilkenny.
“Tipp are going to be all guns blazing to win and you will be able to judge how far away they are from championship standards and see who’s up for it and who’s not. You can take a chance on a couple of the new guys too and if you think you’re going to get anywhere this year you have to produce against Kilkenny.”