Tipperary captain Padraic Maher says there’s plenty of young talent coming through in the county but they must take their chances in the league if they want to experience championship glory first hand.
The 28-year-old Thurles Sarsfields centre-back returns to Tipp duty for this weekend’s Allianz HL Division 1 clash with Clare at Semple Stadium in Thurles.
The reigning All-Ireland champions have been ruthless at the start of 2017 and they backed up their 1-24 to 1-8 opening round hammering of Dublin, with a comfortable six-point win over Waterford last time out.
Four-time All-Star Maher started both games, and last Saturday he lined out for Garda College Templemore, as they claimed the Ryan Cup with victory over IT Sligo at Pearse Stadium.
But now the twice All-Ireland winner is back in Tipperary colours and is looking forward to another massive Division 1 clash with a Munster rival.
“I’m straight back in. It’s great because it’s all games and that’s what it’s all about,” said Maher.
“The league is a fantastic competition. You can see it at the moment with the results, everyone is beating each other, and you never know who is going to win on any given day. It’s great and we just take it game by game and see what happens.
“But the league is very important. It’s a brilliant competition, and every match sets you up that bit more for the championship.
"We are concentrating on every game and there are a lot of lads getting their opportunity. Guys need to take advantage of getting that jersey and then they need to hold onto it.
“You need competition all the time because if we stayed going the way we did last year we are not going to get back to the levels we were at. We need to try and improve on every aspect and that’s our aim at the moment.
“Every player needs to push and that what’s going on. We will try and keep that going for the rest of the league and see where that brings us.”
Tipperary were awesome in the championship last year, and after they hammered Waterford 5-19 to 0-13 in the Munster final, they saw off Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final and Kilkenny in the decider.
It was a brilliant campaign for Michael Ryan’s men, but Padraic, who took over captaincy from Brendan Maher in November, believes the current crop of Tipperary players need to prove themselves all over again.
“It’s very hard to say where Tipperary stand at this time of the year. With the league we are using that as preparation for the championship but every team wants to try and win it too.
“It’s all about preparation for the championship, and realistically you won’t know where you are until it comes down to the opening round and you see how that one goes.
“You can’t look beyond the Munster championship. It’s tough especially now with the other counties coming through again. When we start out every year our number one aim is to win Munster and after that we will worry about the rest.”
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