Tipperary hurler Padraic Maher is unsure whether his shoulder will hold up during Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final.
Maher damaged the AC joint in his left shoulder in the early stages of last month’s Munster final and while he forged through the pain-barrier in Thurles to last the full 70-minutes, the 26-year old was sidelined for the subsequent fortnight.
When asked if there were any concerns over the injury ahead of Tipp’s meeting with Galway, Maher replied: “No doubts, yet.
“I wouldn’t have made a quarter-final [were we involved],” admitted the three-time All Star.
“The first few weeks, there was a worry I wouldn’t make the semi-final because it was so sore and I didn’t know what way it was. I did the same one last year so I knew the protocol. Thankfully, the last two weeks, I’ve been able to do a nice bit of training so it wasn’t too bad.
“I have done contact training, that was the main thing. It’s improving anyway.” Having first damaged his AC joint in a league match against Galway in 2014, Maher was informed his recovery would be swifter second time around.
“I was told the fact that I have done it already, it’s going to heal probably better the second time. Don’t ask me how that is. I’m taking the physio’s word for it anyway.” The Tipperary defender revealed there was massive relief in the camp at having finally achieved Munster glory under Eamon O’Shea and accepted their latest provincial crown carried greater significance than the victories in 2010 and ‘11.
“Especially with Eamon having not got any silverware in the past two years. It was great for him to get it. I think we had nine young lads starting in their first Munster final so it was great for them too.
“You could see with the way we celebrated after on the field with the supporters and that, what it meant to everybody. Around ‘11 and ‘12, we probably took a few of them for granted. We’re not doing that anymore. It felt great to be back in the winner’s enclosure again.
He added: “The first five minutes is when I picked up the injury, I think. The Brick caught me. It wasn’t a big massive shoulder or anything, just the way he caught me. He kind of drove the shoulder up.
“Adrenalin, of course [kept me going]. I suppose for me it was a Munster final in Thurles. We were mad to get back there the last two years. We weren’t going to go down without a fight. A full house in Thurles for a Munster final, you’re going to do everything you can to stay on the field. As long as I wasn’t putting the team in too much bother I was going to stay going as long as I could. If I felt I wasn’t able to go on, I would have came off.”
Maher struggled at full-back on Jonathan Glynn in their qualifier win over Galway last summer and James Barry’s redeployment to the edge of the square to pick up Glynn was viewed as the key move in turning the tide in Tipperary’s favour.
Now in his most “comfortable” position of centre-back, his role this year has been as the loose player in the half-back line.
“People think if you’re not marking anybody, you’ve no one to look after, you’ve a free role, but it’s not as easy as that when you’ve got someone like Brick Walsh breathing down your neck the whole time,” he protests.
“It’s the same for Tadhg de Búrca as well, people are marking him out as well. It’s something you have to get on with and you have to be on your game as much, if not more, than any other player on the field.
“Decision-making has to be 100% because you’re given all sorts of scenarios; you might have to cover for lads, you have to be there as an outlet, you have to be on your game more than ever.” Playing down suggestions that 2015 is a make-or-break year for the Premier hurlers, he did concede the squad would be criticised if the Liam McCarthy cup was not secured next month. “You know Tipperary people - us as players and supporters - they want to win it every year. And that should be the way.
“It’s one of the youngest teams out there. Eamon has brought in lads gradually, and got rid of more lads. Every year is a make-or-break year as far as we’re concerned. Look, all we want is success and we probably haven’t done that enough in the last few years.
“No doubt about it, if we don’t finish up the year the way we want to be, we’ll get criticism again. We’re well used to it at this stage.”
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