"The confidence that he'd put into you as a player, there were days you'd go out and feel 10-feet tall," says Tipperary great Noel McGrath during the intro to this week's episode of Laochra Gael. McGrath's former Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy - who led the county to All-Ireland hurling titles in 2010 and 2019 - is the subject of the show which airs on TG4 at 9:30pm on Thursday, March 2nd.
"In fairness to them, I think the work they did on the training pitch was the big thing for me," said Sheedy this week when asked how he instilled that confidence in players.
"They were tested physically, skilfully and mentally in the training sessions that we had. I think that allowed them to give them the confidence but we spoke about backing ourselves and believing ourselves.
"We always said that we wanted to bring it from Morris Park to Croke Park and we felt that the work that we were doing in Morris Park would be strong enough to get us winning matches up in Croke Park so it’s probably a journey that we went on.
"I do try and communicate often with players and really think about what we might say to them and how the conversation might go. It’s probably something I’ve learned over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to be in leadership roles both in business and in sport for a long number of years and you learn as you go along.
"When I started out managing, if I saw a fella in bad form, I probably walked the other way if he was walking towards the water bottles because I wouldn’t be ready or equipped to handle the tough conversation whereas over time you get much better at those things and we talk things through."
Sheedy said he'd love to see McGrath, the Tipperary captain this year, lift Liam MacCarthy in July.
"It’s very easy give a guy like Noel McGrath and Eoin Kelly and these guys confidence," said Sheedy.
"I think Noel’s performances in the semi-final and final in ‘19 were just incredible. In that second half when I needed leadership he was just incredible.
"I think Noel was 15 when he played wing-back for me against Kilkenny in the All-Ireland (minor) semi-final, he was only a child but he was a big child but his performance even in the ‘09 final. He was outstanding.
"His performance in ‘10 and again his performances in ‘19 and the guy had has setbacks along the way and he had a scare back during Eamon’s time but to see where he’s still leading it out for Tipp and the sentiment in me, personally I’d love to see Noel McGrath getting up the steps.
"We’ll still always be dreaming in Tipp but he’s been an incredible person in that Tipperary dressing room and it’s very easy to work with players like that and I think his leadership, whether he’s in a captain’s role or vice-captain’s role, Noel McGrath is a class individual on and off the field.
"When you’re working with players like him, they’re like sponges and ultimately they just want to play really, really well and I feel privileged and fortunate to have managed him and shared a dressing room with him and he’s one of the best.”
— Laochra Gael (@Laochra_Gael) March 1, 2023
Sheedy added that he likes what he's seen from Tipperary so far under the management of Liam Cahill.
"I’d always be of the view in Tipperary, if we get our act together and are going well, we can generally put 15 really good players on the pitch and have five more to come on," said Sheedy.
"So I do think we’re not shy of having hurlers. It’s just about getting that formulation right. It just looks like a group there’s a lot of harmony in right now. Watching their body language on the field, how hard they are working for each other – they’ve passed all the tests that have been put in front of them.
"After a poor year last year by their standards where they didn’t win a game [in the Munster Championship], I think they’ll see this as being a real shot in the arm.
"Having the older guys in there with experience is good, and you’ve younger guys looking to step up to the plate. If you don’t bring a strong attitude and a strong workrate, Mikey Bevans and Liam Cahill won’t be happy. So I’m liking what I’m seeing. Generally, if Tipperary have that aspect right, they’re well able to put the ball between the posts."