Tipperary captain Padraic Maher has claimed there is often an overreaction to the county’s defeats and described the last fortnight as particularly ‘disruptive’.
Maher is aware of various rumours circulating the Premier County, one of which related to the experienced defender and which was of a highly personal nature, following their Munster championship defeat to Cork.
All-Star corner-back Cathal Barrett was also axed from the All-Ireland holders’ panel for a breach of team discipline.
Maher revealed the players chose to laugh off the rumours, which he labelled “ridiculous”, though he admitted some players were affected and lamented the feverish reaction which typically follows Tipperary defeats.
“I don’t know why it is, people seem to think there is always an excuse as to why we lose a match — it’s never the fact that Cork were better than us on the day,” said Maher. “It’s a bit strange and it’s unfortunate. We’d rather be playing Waterford now in a Munster semi-final of course but that’s not the way it will be. We’ve a big three or four weeks ahead of us now and, if anything, all of this is after bringing the group together.”
Tipperary’s four-point defeat to Cork was a major surprise and Maher said it was difficult for the players to take.
“It was a right kick in the arse,” he said. “It’s been a disruptive few weeks, with Cathal then being released from the panel and all the talk, as they call it. What was being said around the place did affect some players.
“When it’s that ridiculous and people are going that personal into people’s lives, it’s tough for lads. But I think the way it’s gone now, as players, we are just using it in the dressing-room as a bit of amusement, for a laugh, because that’s how bad it’s gone.
“I think that’s all you can do. You can’t do anything else about it, just laugh it off and move forward. We are not going to be wasting energy on ridiculous stuff or stuff that’s not real, stuff that hasn’t actually happened.”
One rumour concerning Maher, written on a popular messaging service, was widely circulated but the four-time All-Star said he didn’t consider taking legal action.
“Look, as players, it’s not nice but we just move on,” he said.
“If we are going to waste all of our energy on stuff like that then we are not going to be at anything in the qualifiers.
“I know nothing about it (the source of the rumour) to be honest. I’ve only seen what everybody else has seen. I don’t think it’s up to us, unless the county board officials have done anything about it. At the end of the day, we can’t be concentrating on all that kind of stuff.”
Tipperary haven’t successfully defended an All-Ireland hurling title since 1965 and they can’t afford any more slip-ups this summer if they are to amend that statistic.
On the plus side, when they won the All-Ireland in 2010, they also suffered an opening round defeat to Cork before bouncing back in sensational fashion.
“The destination is the same but the route is different,” said the Thurles Sarsfields man. “Going the qualifier route does have its pros, we might gain a bit of momentum but you are definitely looking at one or two hard qualifier games.
“It is a tough route but if you can get through those games you’re coming into a quarter-final against a team that has been beaten in a provincial final so your tail should be up and theirs could be down.
“You can get momentum going this way. Preferably, you’d go the other way but we have to play with the cards we’ve been dealt.”
Maher admitted Tipperary didn’t deserve to beat Cork despite going into the game as massive favourites.
“If we had won, it would have been pure doggedness because we weren’t performing well,” he said. “We felt we ticked every box beforehand but obviously something happened when we went over the white line that Sunday in Thurles. We have to look at each other as individuals first, and as a team.”
Tipperary’s surprising dip in form began with a heavy league final defeat to Galway, something that Maher said was “embarrassing” at the time.
“It was a bit embarrassing coming out of the Gaelic Grounds especially after having a reasonably good league, it was tough to take but, look, any defeat like that is going to impact a group,” he said. “We have time on our side to try and get back to the levels we have set ourselves in the last couple of years and that’s the aim.”
Maher believes Tipp need to tighten up at the back for the rest of the summer.
“As a team we can be nowhere near happy with the performance against Cork and to concede that much, number one, you are going to make it fairly hard on yourself to win any match. Cork were better than us on the day.”
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