Tipperary hurling captain Padraic Maher says his side’s 16-point defeat against Galway in this year’s league final affected their confidence.
The two sides meet again in Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final and asked if that April loss dented Tipp’s self-belief Maher says: “It probably did, in ways. It’s bound to, a defeat like that when you think you are going well, and we thought we were going well in the league.
“We had the result against Cork in Páirc Uí Rinn and that was the only upset we had, we felt we were going well, there was a good buzz and then to be hit with that sucker punch in the league final did take it out of lads.
“The confidence was probably a bit low but that is the one joy of the qualifiers that game by game we were building ourselves up. We are by no means where we want to be performance wise but we are getting there slowly and one or two more small things and we’ll be hard to stop.”
Is revenge on Tipperary minds? Not particularly, he says.
“We want to prove we are never as poor as we were that day. It’s going to be massive game for us and the thing about it is that you have to have massive motivation going into game like thing because the last two years have shown there is nothing between Tipp and Galway when it comes to championship.
“You have to have your head screwed on and everyone has to be mentally right because if you are not you are going to get caught.
“We are always going to be criticised after a result like that. The manner of the way we were beaten, we were well beaten. You are going to have to take it on the chin and move on. Slowly but surely we are proving we are not all that bad that day and are getting back to where we want to be. We are by no means at that at the moment but we are very close.
“Once we get the workrate right and we get the tackle count right we feel our hurling will finish the job.”
A high workrate is vital to Tipperary’s chances, says Maher.
“We have some of the best players in the country. John McGrath is one of the best players in the country in terms of getting hooks and blocks in as a forward, and turnovers, so seeing the likes of them lads do that in the big games is a massive lift to us.”
On the other hand the Tipp forwards expect good ball in return...
“That’s it, and the boys don’t be long in telling us about the ball in either. It is all part of it, you try and help them out as much as you can.”
The fitness work needs to be done to enable the work rate, of course. Maher acknowledged the ability of Galway’s strength and conditioning coach Lukacz Kirzenstein, who prepared Tipp in recent years.
“It’s hard to know because Galway were always big, strong men anyway,” says Maher. “Lukacz would have a lot of experience having dealt with us over the past four or five years. In the first year or two with us, he was trying to get to know the game a bit more and what would work for us.
“He came from a rugby background and as I said he was able the interlink the gym with the type of drills we need for hurling. He is going to be a massive addition to them, he was great for us as well.
"He is gone now and we have Ciaran (Keogh) in. From what I can see a lot of these strength and conditioning guys, they all do the same type of thing anyway. I don’t think it is going to have any bearing on what way the game will go on Sunday.”
Maher knows Galway manager Micheál Donoghue as well; Donoghue was part of Eamon O’Shea’s backroom team when O’Shea managed Tipperary. “He (Donoghue) loves his hurling. He was very enjoyable to work with. He’s just one of those coaches that loves training, loves coaching teams, loves talking about hurling.
“I thoroughly enjoyed working with him and he was always going to be an addition to Galway. He’s a very determined man in his own right. You can see that in the way they have gone about their business this year.
“They are definitely improving, you can see that. They can hurt you in so many ways and seem to be working very hard for one another so we’ll have to match that all day long.”
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