Brendan Maher: Tipperary will change routine in semi-final build-up

Brendan Maher is one who subscribes to the definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same result.

To that end, the Tipperary captain insists they will be changing their preparations for next month’s All-Ireland semi-final.

Caught by Galway as Munster champions last year, Maher is determined not to be found wanting at that last four stage for the second successive season.

“Definitely. From talking to lads we were saying that if we were faced with it (a lay-off) again that we would do a few things differently to last year. Maybe we trained too hard last year after the Munster final — we were kind of burnt out by the time we got to Galway. Hopefully, we’ll have club fixtures to focus on for the next couple of weeks, lads will be able to recharge the batteries.

“We just want to peak in five weeks time, that’s our sole focus now.

“We have never used it (the gap between games) as an excuse. It’s the performance on the day that is the problem, whether it is five weeks, two weeks, or three weeks, it’s up to us to get ourselves right. We have failed to do so. I don’t think five weeks is the actual problem, it’s just the preparation as a whole is wrong. We’ll try and do things a bit differently this year but our focus is on five weeks time.

“This is my fifth Munster title I have won so it is the fifth time we are faced with it. We haven’t gotten it right too many times. In 2011, we beat Dublin in a semi-final but performed poorly that day. The last four times we have been faced with it we haven’t performed well at the semi-final stage so it’s time to do something different.”

By yesterday, Tipperary had parked their Munster SHC success. They simply have to, says Maher.

“Look, it’s great, a Munster championship win is brilliant, it’s a medal that you’ll cherish. But as I said we really need to draw a line under it now. We’ll enjoy the celebrations but we have five weeks to up the levels for the semi-final.

“We were in this position already. Some of those lads out there, it was their first medal and they’re really going to cherish it, as will I. But it’s no good us winning a Munster championship if we can’t go on and perform in the All-Ireland series. That’s our aim now. We have to really get ourselves back down to earth.”

Maher’s openness about the failing in Tipperary’s build-up to the All-Ireland semi-final signifies the leadership in the squad. Michael Ryan may have been part of the management team then but he has encouraged players to take ownership of the group.

“Fellas have matured,” Maher remarks. “We’ve learned from experiences. We’ve brought in new players, which has added a great freshness to it. Mick has challenged us, but, to be honest, he hands a lot of it over to us. We’re the ones that cross the white line so we have to make the decisions and he facilitates us to make those decisions. Thankfully, it’s been going well. We’ve been showing grit and character.”

Going by John McGrath’s comments after the game, Tipp’s ability to make the most of their long deliveries into the full-forward line didn’t come off the training ground in Dr Morris Park. However, there was some thought put into the tactic.

“That’s something we worked on the last few weeks. We said nobody had tried it yet so why not lump in the ball? I know myself when playing as a sweeper the last thing you want is ball coming down right on top of you. A sweeper is used to moving left and right onto the ball so we said we’d go the direct route.

“The boys had to be selfless with those runs and thankfully you saw Mikey Breen making a 50-yard run. He made a few more but nothing came out of them. That’s the chance you have to take and the selfless runs you have to make.”

Maher lauded 21-year-old McGrath whose 3-2 tally more than made up for the loss of John O’Dwyer to suspension. “He’s the find of the year for us. Last year he had a great league and he was unfortunate with injuries. This year, he’s just been unmarkable at times. Hopefully, he can maintain that and drive it on in August.”


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