Liam Sheedy admits Tipperary’s Championship preparations this year were greatly helped by taking a dimmer approach to April’s club month.
Earlier this year, Sheedy said the county never “stood a chance” of qualifying from the Munster championship in 2018 because the board embraced the spirit of the month and filled it with club fixtures.
This year, just one championship fixture in each code was arranged for April. Speaking at yesterday’s All-Ireland final press event in the Horse and Jockey Hotel, Sheedy admitted the change of approach was beneficial.
“You’re flat out in the league and then you come straight out and into the Championship. You lose your first match and you’re on the back foot straight away. You do need to get your full focus.
“I would have felt those few weeks before the (opening) Cork match were vital to us, really important. I have a really good working relationship with the board. It’s hard to get the balance right. There is more work and I don’t think the club and inter-county fixtures are synchronised yet.”
At the same time, Sheedy appreciates he was more fortunate than his predecessor Michael Ryan whose team faced four games in 21 days. “What Tipp had to face last year versus how it was structured this year, I got the break, two matches, then a week off then another match then a week off.
“It really was much easier for me to time my run throughout the round-robin than it was last year with the four matches in a row and I think it has been proven since, it’s impossible to play four matches in a row and still stay in the Championship.” Sheedy supports the home-away nature of the Munster SHC but agrees the fixtures calendar needs the wholesale review that is currently taking place.
The beauty is everyone gets four matches. I like the home and away. The kids in Waterford and Clare get to see… I felt me going over to Thurles as a child instilled something in me about Tipperary hurling that I attached to and I was attracted to. So I think that’s one of the really good outcomes.
“Ultimately, the Championship only really takes off when you get into knock-out hurling. That is the reality, you have to ask yourself over time is it sustainable that you play one (club) match in April and then you have to play numerous matches. The overall calendar needs further work. We have got to have a situation that facilitates counties and clubs to prosper. And there is a danger that it is lop-sided at the moment.”
Former RTÉ hurling pundit Sheedy felt the timing of Dónal Óg Cusack and Derek McGrath’s comments about the sweeper system at the beginning of The Sunday Game the night of Tipperary’s All-Ireland semi-final win over Wexford was unfortunate.
Personally, the timing of it… if it was on after the match had been analysed I don’t think it might have come in for such negative commentary. But look, Dónal Óg and Derek are two really, really strong hurling men.
"Everybody has their own style when they go in to the studio.
“You’re encouraged to bring your own style, and be your own person. I really enjoyed my time in The Sunday Game analysing. It certainly hasn’t done me any harm in terms of staying close to the game, understanding the game and where it is moving. So I would say definitely, being involved as an analyst on The Sunday Game helped me in terms of getting back in.” He continued: “I play with six backs. If I play with six backs, is that a sweeper? Everybody has their own style of play. Every manager, ultimately, you’re trying to set up your team, to structure your team to give yourself the best chance of winning.”