On Sunday night Rory McIlroy won his second Major and went back to No 1 in the golf world.
Probably more significant from his point of view was that it ended all talk that he might become a one-hit wonder.
Watching the action unfold over the Ocean Course in South Carolina with interest was Tipperary’s totemic wing-back Pádraic Maher.
Did the thought cross his mind at all about the possible parallels between Tipperary hurlers and McIlroy? Like the Down man in golf this is a team with all the talents, has contested three of the last four All-Ireland finals and will meet Kilkenny in the semi-final on Sunday for the right to contest another.
Are they concerned about the fact they themselves could end up as one-hit wonders, do they feel under pressure to win another?
“I wouldn’t call it pressure,” he said.
“We just want to get back to being All-Ireland champions again. We got a taste of success in 2010 and tasted defeat in 2009 and 2011 so we know both sides of the coin.
“We just want to get back to the top again because we know we are capable of it.
“We have a good panel of players. The 15 lads who are starting and the lads who are coming on have won all the games for us. That brings us confidence, knowing the lads coming off the sideline will do a job as well.”
Actually, that is something that is very striking about these Tipperary lads, their confidence. It’s been remarked on time and again that one of the reasons McIlroy wins, one of the reasons our boxers did so well in the Olympics, is down to confidence.
It’s all about the belief they have in themselves, a believe they’re not shy about expressing.
Maher has that same kind of confidence.
“We know we have the players and are as good as anyone in the country when we perform. We think we have the right to be up there with the best and to be the best.”
That’s only the talk of course, because as Maher then goes on to acknowledge: “We have to back that up on Sunday.”
Kilkenny too have that confidence, a confidence not to be confused with its very distant cousin, arrogance.
It’s innate belief, that’s all it is, belief in their own ability.
Kilkenny’s self-belief may have taken a knock a few weeks ago when Galway gave them a walloping in the Leinster final.
Now, with Galway in the All-Ireland final awaiting the winners of this game, that could be seen as extra motivation for the Cats. Not so, reckons Maher — Kilkenny don’t do self-doubt.
“I don’t think Kilkenny need motivation no matter who they’re playing,” he said.
“They want to get back to the All-Ireland final, especially after losing the Leinster final. They want to get things right again and get back to where they think they should be, but we have our own agenda, we want to be in the final as much as they do.
“We’re going to be trying our hardest, we’ve had a good five weeks training and we’re looking forward to it now.”
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