“I think more is made out of that than there needs to be,” says Jason Forde. Such is life with the Tipperary hurlers.
Seamus Callanan missed a few frees in the league, so Forde took over the job he’d handled last year, while Callanan was injured. And now the faithful aren’t sure who Tipp’s freetaker is, and Eoin Kelly is in to help out with the frees, in case they’ve all forgotten how to take them.
“It seems to be now you nearly can’t even miss a free,” says the Silvermines forward. “It’s nearly gone to be 95%-100%, that’s what you need to be hitting.
“And if you look at Callanan, obviously he was injured for most of last year and he only came back towards the championship and I had been hitting them so I continued on hitting them... But if you look previous to that, his record and scoring efficiency had been unreal.
“So I think more is made out of that than there needs to be. You hear whispers and things like that. But to be honest, it only goes over our head. You’re so focused on what you have to do. Whoever the management decide they want to entrust with that, they’ll be ready to do a job.
“Even outside of that we have a couple of really good strikers of a ball who could take them. Bubbles, and Brendan (Maher) hits them really well for Borris-Ileigh. There’s a number of lads who could take them and whoever they decide to go with we’ll be happy to roll with that.”
On the website for Nenagh’s MC Future Fitness, Matt Cooney lists his success stories with before and after pics: Lisa’s eight-week body makeover; the 18 pounds Noel shed; Sheena’s physical transformation. But he says nothing about making Forde a fixture in a Tipp jersey.
“I suppose it takes a while to get to know what suits your body best,” says Forde, accepting 2018 was his breakout year, after a couple when his arc plateaued.
“Last year I decided I had to do something different if I wanted different results. I just worked with a lad from home in Nenagh, a personal trainer, for a few months and came back in better shape than I ever had. I was able to maintain that then throughout the year. So again, once we finished up in September, October with the club, I went back with this lad again. It seemed to work last year so I said try and do the same again.
“Last year I got a good run at it between Fitzgibbon and then I think I played nearly every game in the league and the same in the championship. I was lucky I didn’t pick up any injuries and stayed healthy throughout that. That just kind of builds.
Once you get a run of games and get a bit of confidence and get going, things started to flow. From a personal point of view it was probably my best year playing with Tipp. But at the end of the day, what real good is it when you don’t progress in the championship?
With lack of progress came change and one narrative around Tipp sees Liam Sheedy returning to pull off one last job with the old gang, while another sees a hungry group of U21 All-Ireland winners straining at the leash.
But on the
“You need a good solid core in the middle. The middle crop, the Dan McCormacks, the Cathal Barretts, the John O’Dwyers, the Jasons and these guys, who are really really good players.”
“I suppose I’m in that middle cohort now of players,” says Forde, finished college and begun working life teaching in Nenagh College.
“We’ve a big mix now within the panel. Guys who have come through minor and U21s; that middle cohort then, the likes of myself and Ronan Maher and lads like that; and then your older players, like Paudie and Brendan Maher. We have a good mixture there at the minute so it kind of bodes well.”