Newly installed Tipperary captain Brendan Maher admits the recruitment of football legend Kieran McGeeney came as a big surprise.
Former Kildare boss McGeeney has met the Tipp hurlers to explain the new role of performance coach he will occupy alongside boss Eamon O’Shea. According to Maher, the 2002 All-Ireland winning Armagh skipper made it clear that he won’t be working with them as a sports psychologist, as many expected.
Rather, he will attend training sessions and games and seek to add focus, direction and motivation to the players in a bid to extract their top form. Maher says McGeeney has already made an impressive impact on the players.
“It did surprise me, of course,” said Maher. “I think it surprised everyone. You don’t expect a footballer to get involved with a hurling team and vice versa. He’s with us for the whole approach to training. He’s obviously not going to be getting involved in anything to do with hurling.
“He said that himself, he doesn’t know anything about hurling really. What he does know is about giving 100% on and off the field. He’s going to try to bring us his knowledge on that.
“He wouldn’t consider himself a sports psychologist. It’s more on preparation, even your attitude towards training and little things that you can do. He’ll come down and he’ll watch us and he’ll see if lads need to be doing something different or he’ll tell you, you know, you need to work on this or that.
“I suppose he’s always been known for his dedication and motivation and he’s really going to come down and hand over that bit of experience. Just to make sure that we’re all putting in 100% effort.
“Maybe it’s something that Eamon felt we just needed, someone to come in and have a look at that. It’s kind of like an outside view, an extra body around the place.
“We have had fellas with us, most teams have, it’s just that Kieran is our man this year. The fact that he’s so high profile has grabbed the attention.”
The Tipp players will meet this weekend for a match among themselves. They’ve already met as a group and listened to what McGeeney had to say.
“It was my first time meeting him, very impressive, seems to be a very determined, motivated man, very serious about what he does,” continued Maher, at the launch of Tipperary’s new Skoda sponsored 2014 jersey. “I think he’ll be a great help to us.”
‘Geezer’s’ recruitment is an effort by boss O’Shea to bring improvement to the team after the low of 2013 when they exited the Championship at the qualifier stage having been many people’s title favourites just weeks earlier. Another big change is Maher’s promotion to captain.
“Eamon rang me to ask me about it and he gave me a few days to think it over,” revealed Maher. “It wasn’t just a case that he told me I was captain and that was it.
“I did think about it for a few days, we met up and had a discussion and obviously I said I was delighted to be asked and was just hoping that I could be a good servant. I was minor captain in 2007 but it’s a completely different set-up when you’re minor. There’s a whole lot of extra things involved with being the senior captain. But it’s something I’m looking forward to and hopefully I can do it well.”
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