Bill Maher: Tipperary football must end year in Croke Park

Dual player Bill Maher believes anything less than another All-Ireland semi-final appearance for Tipperary footballers this season would be failure.

The 23-year-old, who played Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cup for his college DIT this year, insists Tipp can push on from last season’s exploits.

The former All-Ireland minor hurling winning captain believes the raw material is there for Liam Kearns’ men to improve, even if they have started the league indifferently with a win over Antrim and a loss to Sligo. They will hope to bounce back away to Laois on Saturday, one of Kearns’ former sides.

“You want progress. If someone told us before our first game against Waterford last year, you would end up in an All-Ireland semi-final against Mayo, you’d take their hand off for it,” said Maher.

The Kilsheelan-Kilcash defender, who also won an All- Ireland MFC title in 2011, says they must return to headquarters again.

“Natural instinct kicks in, as you win the next game you keep going. If we ended up beating Mayo we would have believed we could have beaten Dublin.

“Progression is all we are looking for. Anything less than what we achieved last year would be seen as a failure.We want to win every game in the league, get promotion, then kick on for the championship. A bit of momentum going into the championship is essential.

“In the summer it makes such a difference if you don’t have three or four rounds of qualifiers to play, and you get straight into a quarter-final. That’s the ultimate goal.

“You want to finish your year in Croke Park. That was what we said last year, no matter what happens we want to finish there.”

Tipperary begin their Munster championship campaign when they clash with the winners of Cork and Waterford in the semi-final in June. Maher says he will continue to place all of his focus on the footballers after he was left out of the hurling fold last year.

He was dropped by Tipperary hurling coach Michael Ryan before the beginning of the championship, and although the hurlers won the All-Ireland, Maher says he was happy with how his own year unfolded.

“I was on the squad until about April, and then I was dropped off that panel, and went on to the football panel a couple of weeks before the championship.

“I’d have no regrets, I threw my hat in with the hurlers, gave all I could but wasn’t good enough. I would be very good friends with the hurlers, have played with them from 14 all the way up, so I was delighted to see them win.

“I wouldn’t change anything that happened for the world. If you’re being selfish you might think if only, but putting everything into perspective I would take where I finished up at the end of the day.

“I have no idea what the future holds, but this year I will concentrate on playing football.

“I am just concentrating on the league and what is in front of me. I won’t worry about anything else.”


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