Corbett looks to draw on the positives

LOST in all the hype this week about the unofficial All-Ireland rugby final in Croke Park between Munster and Leinster is an actual official decider, and in one of our own national games at that.

On Sunday, less than 24 hours after the GAA HQ spectacle, Tipperary face Kilkenny in Thurles in the NHL final.

In a sense you could say it duplicates the rugby match, Leinster (Magners League champions) trying to gain revenge for a recent pasting by Munster (Heineken Cup kingpins), Tipperary (league champions) attempting to do the same against Kilkenny (All-Ireland champions); you could even take it a step further, and say that on Saturday we could be watching one of the finest club rugby teams of all time, all-conquering Munster, while on Sunday we could be seeing their hurling equivalent, three-in-a-row All-Ireland champions Kilkenny.

But, enough of the preamble – what must it be like to be Lar Corbett this week?

What must it be like to be a member of the team charged with trying to stop Kilkenny? What must it be like in this proud hurling county to see so much attention paid to what’s happening in another code at Croke Park. Corbett said: “Rugby is after taking over in the last few years, and it’s after getting very strong in Tipperary. But the story is the same all over Ireland.

“Someone was saying to me, “you had only four or five teams represented in the hurling All Stars but you had nine counties represented with Ireland in the rugby’. So there is a huge spread across the country there.

“It is getting stronger, it is getting popular, a lot of young fellas are growing up now wanting to play rugby, and here in Tipperary, when they see Denis Leamy, the Fogartys, Trevor Hogan, Donnacha Ryan, Alan Quinlan going with the Lions, they want to follow that. It is the same with the soccer, given how well Shane Long is doing. Those are the professional sports, they see what can be done and would like to do the same, and you can understand all that.”

Given those circumstances, and even though Kilkenny are overwhelming favourites Sunday, isn’t there an onus on Tipperary to step up to the plate on behalf of hurling and give those youngsters something else to aim for?

“Without a doubt, yes, and I think we can take a lot of positives from our league campaign,” Corbett admitted.

“We were badly beaten by Kilkenny (in the league) but that was our only defeat and we ended with 12 points, the same as Kilkenny.”

True, but it was the manner of that defeat (5-17 to 1-12, Kilkenny’s five goals coming in the first half) that has so convinced most pundits that this game – like the game in Croke Park – is a foregone conclusion.

“The Kilkenny loss was our only blip, and I don’t know what happened, I can’t explain it. Kilkenny are a serious team, they’ve done that to a lot of teams in the league, but we’re encouraged by how Waterford and Dublin did against them

“We’re only delighted to get another crack at them – every Tipperary player is looking forward to it. That’s what you want in sport, to play the best, or the so-called best, that’s how you’re judged. One thing about me, always – I admire a good team, and I admire Kilkenny, just as I admire Toomevara inside the county. You learn from the best, and I hope we’ve learned from that match in Nowlan Park – I think we have, I feel confident we’ll perform Sunday. I know we’re not given much of a chance, the bookies have us at five to one against but we don’t mind that, everyone is entitled to their opinion. We’re looking forward to the battle, and a big performance from Tipperary.”

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.