Former Tipperary stars question the fitness of Tipp players

Willie Maher and Paddy Stapleton have questioned the fitness of Tipperary’s players after their championship exit at the hands of Cork on Sunday
Former Tipperary stars question the fitness of Tipp players

Tipperary manager Colm Bonnar. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Willie Maher and Paddy Stapleton have questioned the fitness of Tipperary’s players after their championship exit at the hands of Cork on Sunday.

Ex-Tipperary minor and U21 manager Maher believe the team looked severely off the pace in going down to Kieran Kingston’s side.

Insisting the team’s system of play has become obsolete, Maher told Tipp FM’s “Extra Time”: “We didn’t look fit on Sunday. I know that’s a very loose term but Cork were coming at us in waves with an athleticism.

“Cork might win the All-Ireland this year but that’s a big might. They have been blown away in the three or four big matches they have played but they looked like superstars on Sunday.” 

Two-time All-Ireland winning defender Stapleton said: “If I look at Tipp players, I don’t know if they look as physically conditioned as other teams. I know people might say that’s very simple but I don’t think they do. Whether that’s natural, I don’t know if we’re as big or as fast or as athletic as other teams.

“Or is the right stuff in place? There has been a changeover of S&C (strength and conditioning) there. Since my time, we’ve often had different S&Cs where I think continuity is what you want in that area.” 

Stapleton believes the displays against Waterford and Limerick were misleading. 

“I’d be fairly confident none of those teams took us seriously. Waterford were after winning the league final, (were) coming down off that.

“If anyone tells me the intensity Limerick showed against us was anything close to what they showed in an All-Ireland semi-final or final, I’d laugh at them. The two teams that took us seriously, Clare and Cork, dismantled us and that’s so worrying going forward.” 

Echoing Tipperary commercial advisor Billy O’Shea’s call for a director of hurling in the county, Maher questioned the lack of games development administrators (GDAs) in the county. 

“I think we have four GDAs in Tipperary, four people on the ground coaching across the whole county. I think Wexford have something like 16 or 17 and counting.

“We’re being completely left behind as regards investment and organisation as how to build a structure. And Wexford are a much smaller county than ourselves in hurling terms and they have three or four times more GDAs.” 

Meanwhile, Waterford’s review of their early SHC departure is expected to centre on their preparations over the last three weeks.

As Liam Cahill considers his future and intends speaking to players in the coming weeks before making a decision, some of them believe overtraining was an issue after the defeat to Limerick.

Jim McGuinness, who was reported last December to have been working with the team as a performance coach, is understood to have attended one of the training sessions.

Speaking after Sunday’s loss to Clare, Cahill said: “Maybe we didn’t get it right from a preparation perspective, I don’t know, but whatever happened over the last three weeks hasn’t been good and I’m just so disappointed for the players who put in all the work."

Talking to WLRFM, former Waterford and Tipperary defender Brian Flannery believes that period from the Limerick to the Cork defeats will be scrutinised. 

“This time last week, we were talking about dirty petrol in the car. Yesterday, the tank was empty. There was no dirty petrol. There were no fits and starts, the tank was just empty. They were playing on fumes, the energy wasn’t there, the tackling level wasn’t there, the aggression wasn’t there.

“Clare worked a number of scores where there wasn’t an interruption from any Waterford player. That’s not normal. That’s not what we associate with this team. The three weeks leading into the Cork game was a good chunk of time. I’m sure the review will include ‘did we change things in those weeks’, ‘did we change our pattern of training?’ But it is very difficult.”

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