Tipperary star Noel McGrath says he and his team-mates weren’t surprised by the strength of the Limerick challenge in last Sunday’s Munster SHC semi-final.
Limerick led Tipperary for most of the game and it took a late goal from Brian O’Meara to get the pre-game favourites over the line by four points, but McGrath paid tribute to Limerick and the quality of their performance.
“We knew well that Limerick were going to put it up to us,” said McGrath.
“This is the Munster senior hurling championship, you expect that teams will produce the goods on the day no matter how they’ve been going in the league before that.
“The number of people saying we’d win by a good few points weren’t paying much attention to Limerick, obviously. They have plenty of good players, you could see that on Sunday, and they were able to work well together. We were under serious pressure for most of the game and only got on top in the closing stages, really.”
McGrath joined other colleagues in paying tribute to the likes of Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher, who came in as a second-half substitute to energise the forwards.
“It’s a 20-man game now, as the cliche goes,” said McGrath. “Sunday was a very hot day, it took a lot of energy out of you playing at that level. Patrick’s a very direct, hardworking player, he kept winning ball and driving forward with it, winning frees and laying it off to other lads to get scores.
“On a day like that you have to use your entire panel and fair dues to Declan [Ryan] and the other selectors, they got the likes of Shane [McGrath] and Seamie [Callanan] on at the right times to make a difference as well when it counted.”
Now Tipperary face Cork in the Munster semi-final down in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on June 24.
The Leesiders had a relatively facile win over Tipp in the National League semi-final, but that was a Tipperary shorn of several starters, all of whom are likely to be available for the semi-final. McGrath says they’re looking forward to the reunion.
“I wouldn’t say that league game will have any bearing on things, we’ve played each other often enough in the championship in recent years that we’d know each other well anyway.
“Cork will be well prepared and of course, playing at home they’ll be keen to put on a good performance for their supporters. We have a few weeks now to get to work in training to improve on a few things, and hopefully we’ll be in good form when we go down to Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
“We’ve been focused on Limerick for the last few weeks, so now we can give all our attention to Cork and getting ready for them; we’re looking forward to that game.”
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