Brendan Maher fluffs lines but joins greats in Stapleton’s

Tipperary captain Brendan Maher already regrets his All-Ireland winning acceptance speech after forgetting to thank Michael Ryan and the management team.

Maher wrote down a few words after the semi-final win over Galway – “got it out of the head” – but in the delirium of the moment omitted words of praise for the sideline men.

“It’s unbelievable, the stuff you dream of. In the moment you don’t know what to think, you’re all over the place, and I forgot to mention Mick Ryan and the management in the speech. I had him first on the list. I saw the names and said I’d come back to it but I just forgot. You don’t know what you’re at! .”

Maher became the fourth man from his club to lead Tipperary to an All-Ireland SHC title. He had visualised joining Sean Kenny, Jimmy Finn and Bobby Ryan.

“There are three lads in Borrisoleigh that lifted Liam MacCarthy and I’ve referred to that mural on Stapleton’s pub. I see that mural an awful lot and I just had it in my head – I had a vision of my name going down beside the senior roll of honour and now it’s going to be there.

“Bobby Ryan was the last fella in 1989. He sent well-wishes – he’s a legend around our parts. He’s a very honest man and a warrior and to have your name down with Bobby, Jimmy Finn and Sean Kenny, legends around our way, I’m just glad my name is there.

"That’s one side of things, from a personal point of view, and I’m just delighted for the whole group who has put in so much effort over the last few years. It wasn’t just a case of we gave it everything this year - this has been going on consistently since I joined the panel and it’s nice to get your rewards.”

Maher spoke about how Tipp had to end their winless championship run against Kilkenny and up their aggression levels to prevent opinions about the team becoming accepted.

“Perception is reality and there was a perception we were nearly starting to believe. We had to be different, we had to say ‘look, this is the way we are’ and we had to believe in it more. We had such a strong group and a very private group – we kept to ourselves, knuckled down and focused on what was important.

“There’s a new challenge ahead; unfortunately, the 2016 championship is history and that’s the way it is. We have 2017 to look forward to, we’ll enjoy this first but this is a very ambitious group. In 2010 we won and there was a lot expected of us. We didn’t get the success in the following years and we want to change it this time.”

Seamus Kennedy accepted his decision to choose hurling over football this year proved a rewarding one but never believed it would end with him in a starting spot in an All-Ireland final triumph.

“I definitely couldn’t have imagined this,” he admitted. “Missing the league because of Commercials (senior football team) doing so well. I suppose I got a chance, I was lucky, I kept the head down, I got a break and thankfully I’ve made the most of it.

“I think anyone that knows me around Clonmel knows hurling has always been my first game. I was as happy as anyone for the footballers. I was a Tipp fan before and I was a Tipp fan up supporting the footballers as well. I was thrilled for them.

"I think they understood my decision as well. They’re a super bunch of lads. I’ve always wanted to play hurling for Tipperary and today is just a dream come true.”

Kennedy never truly felt Kilkenny were beaten until the closing stages when Tipp had slipped out of reach.

“I don’t think you can think that with Kilkenny. We got a goal at one stage and they came straight back down and got another. You just can’t think that with Kilkenny. As someone said I don’t think you’ve them bet until they’re back home. True champions that they are, they never give in.

“In fairness to Mick (Ryan), he’s been saying all year we’ve stuck to our beliefs and we stuck to our beliefs the whole way through that game. We just stayed trying to do the right things and thankfully it came off today.”


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