THE weight of history is hanging heavy on Tipperary ahead of their opening Munster championship assignment away to Cork on June 8 but midfielder Shane McGrath isn’t buckling under the burden.
McGrath admits that ‘all they are hearing’ is that the Premier County haven’t beaten their great rivals in Cork for over 80 years but he insists he and his teammates are using the statistic as a motivational tool.
“We’ll have that at the back of our minds but records are there to be broken,” he said at yesterday’s Vodafone Player of the Month Awards.
“Going down there playing Cork in Cork — it doesn’t get any better than that.
“You play championship hurling for days like that. And we are where we want to be at this time of year. Lads are going well, there’s a good buzz in training.”
There’s a ready appreciation of the task confronting them on June 8.
“It (the rivalry) speaks for itself. There will be no margin for error.
“Every inch is going to count that day.”
Tipperary enter this game as NHL champions and McGrath admits that the campaign was hugely successful not just in terms of silverware.
He explained: “The League this year was great for us this year. Our aim at the start was to get to the final and we did that.
“Winning was a great bonus. (Manager) Liam (Sheedy) and the management realised they had to try out new players and there are some great young lads coming through, Seamus Callanan for example. He came on in every match and made an impression. He’s going to be a great prospect and it’s the same with a few more lads.
“They got to use 26 or 27 players which for any management is brilliant in a league campaign.
“You can’t buy experience. This is my third year. I am doing things differently to what I did two years ago.
“You learn from guys around you, guys like Eoin Kelly and others who have been around for a few years.”
McGrath’s praise isn’t just reserved for his teammates — Sheedy is ‘a real players man,’ he comments while he also has been impressed with selectors Eamonn O’Shea and Michael Ryan.
“Everybody gets on really well with each other, which I think is another factor for us being successful,” he added.
Last year, he says it wasn’t so much a case of the players ‘not enjoying’ their involvement, more a case of being disheartened by the loss to Limerick after their three-game marathon in the Munster semi-final.
“Ask any Limerick guy, whichever team lost after the three games it was going to take a lot out of them. And it did, physically and mentally.
“We had to go out the following week and beat Offaly — luckily by a goal. When you’re not winning things, training is not as enjoyable, the media are putting you down and there is a negative reaction from fans. As well as that, we had so many injuries.
“We lost five players after the League game with Waterford and some of those carried through to the championship.”
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