No baggage as Noel McGrath looks forward to big clash

Noel McGrath believes Tipperary will not carry any baggage from last year’s All-Ireland SHC semi-final loss to Galway into Sunday’s rematch.

Their one-point defeat marked the end of Éamon O’Shea’s three-year reign as Tipp boss, while the managerial merry-go-round has since thrown up an interesting sidenote on the sideline this weekend with O’Shea’s former backroom-team member Micheál Donoghue in charge of Galway. But McGrath maintains the Premier men are not hung up on any aspect of last year’s defeat other than reversing the result.

“We’re a year on now and we have to look forward,” said the 25-year-old. “If we keep dwelling on last year, we’ll get stuck on it. So our main focus for the last year has been 2016 and an All-Ireland semi-final and preparing the best we can. There’s a lot of players involved that weren’t last year so we just have to prepare the best we can,” continued McGrath, who memorably came off the bench for that clash after recovering from testicular cancer.

“Any day you lose a championship game is massive, especially an All-Ireland semi-final,” he said. “We’ve been waiting five weeks since the Munster final so you’re looking forward to getting back in action, you just want to try and get over the line,” added McGrath, who has hit six points in three games for a hot Tipp attack.

However, that five-week break has been cited by many as an area of concern for Tipperary as they have not been in action since their 21-point hammering of Waterford in the Munster final. In contrast, Galway are coming off the back of a six-point quarter-final win over Clare last month after bouncing back from their second-half Leinster final blow-up against Kilkenny.

“I think there’s a lot made of the five weeks,” said McGrath. “We had seven-eight weeks before the first round of the Munster championship without any match.

“It’s been done before that teams have won their semi-final after winning their provincial and Kilkenny are doing it year after year so if people want to use it after a defeat it’s easy but we won’t be using it as an excuse.

“We wanted to win our Munster final, you have five weeks then. I think it’s too easy to say that five weeks is too long a time, it is what it is and you just have to get on with it. I’d rather be waiting five weeks for an All-Ireland final than be out of the championship.”

Tipperary are 1/2 favourites to reach the final, but McGrath is wary of a recovering Galway side after their win over Clare.

“They had a great win against Clare in Thurles,” said the Loughmore-Castleiney man. “They’ve been in All- Ireland finals, semi-finals, winning Leinsters, the last six, seven, eight years. We’re under no illusions what they bring to it. They have serious players there, serious hurlers. We’re just looking forward to the battle. You want to be playing against the best in Croke Park. It’s going to be a massive challenge.

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