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Padraic Maher's Attitude To Defeat Puts Tipp's Opponents On Notice For 2019

Padraic Maher's Attitude To Defeat Puts Tipp's Opponents On Notice For 2019

Before 2017, the 1996 All-Ireland Final between Wexford and Limerick was the last the final was played without at least one of hurling's big three - Kilkenny, Cork , and Tipperary. In nine of those 19 finals, two of those three competed.

Over the last two years, hurling's second revolution has taken off at speed. Galway ended a 29 year drought in 2017, and Limerick trumped them by putting to bed a 45 year wait last Sunday.

One wonders how long hurling's traditional powers will be kept down though.

Cork are certainly on the verge of getting there. They've won two Munster Championships in a row, and lost this year's semi final in extra time having had victory almost in the bag in normal time. Kilkenny may be in transition but it's hard to see them down for long, having blooded several new players this year.

Probably the most interesting of the three heading into 2019, though, are Tipperary. The 2016 champions had a shocking year in 2018, not making it out of the Munster round robin format after defeat to Clare in Thurles. Since then, manager Michael Ryan has stepped down and the hunt to replace him is ongoing. What is a simple fact though is that Tipp have one of, if not the, most talented groups of players in the country and will be raring to go once the 2019 season gets under way.

We sat down with their captain Padraic Maher recently as part of our #WeAreHurling series with Centra, and we discussed his great days with Tipp, winning two All-Irelands, as well as the tough days, the losses to Kilkenny and the failure to replicate those great days on a consistent basis.

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Mainly though, Maher was hurting. The most incredible hurling championship in our time was unfolding, and for the majority of the summer, he and Tipperary were not part of it. This is not something easily come to terms with.

One of the best players in the country for the last decade, Maher has achieved everything in the game, but when talking to him, it's easy to see that losing games appears to have a far greater impact on the Thurles man than wins, and it's something that Tipp's rivals should take note of going into next year.

I don't know whether it's something that I have to get out of my own head, or whether it's a good thing or a bad thing, but defeats kind of stick with me more than the victories. Whether it's defeats with Tipperary or defeats with my club, they always stick in your mind that bit more. Maybe it's something that maybe in my own head, I'm trying to use it as motivation going forward, I don't know.

At the end of the day, you're out there to win and you only get so many years at this game at a high level. Unfortunately the last numbers of years, we've had a lot of hard defeats. Whether it's losing to Galway - we lost to them twice in the space of three years by a point. So close, yet so far. My own club then, losing Munster Club Championship matches by a point or in extra time in the last number of years.

A lot of these things stick in your head and I suppose I'm getting older now, I'm hitting the 30 mark, and you just want to be as successful as you can before this is all over, and unfortunately it's not running that smoothly at the moment.

What does this mean for a Tipp team with arguably the best forwards in the country and with one of the best defenders of his era driving them on?

You learn from experiences, and you never stop learning and you always try to move forward. No matter age I am, I'm 29 now, I hope to learn again from the experiences of the last number of years and hopefully try and use them for the couple of years I have left.

As I said, defeats sting a lot in my mind over the last number of years. I'm lucky enough to play for Tipperary for the last 10 years, and don't get me wrong, the few victories we've had and the great days we've had are definitely days I'm proud of, and I'm proud to put on the jersey, but, I suppose, it's trying to rectify the days of the defeats and finish up with good memories, and give the people of Tipperary what they want, and success.

As I said, going back to 2001 when I looked at that Tipperary team, if I can finish up my career proud that I can say that hopefully the younger lads in Tipperary can look up to me and say they're the days they want to be involved in as players, and help them progress, and make their interest in the game at home grow more, and if I can leave like that then, I'll be fairly happy enough with the career I've had.

It's already been a phenomenal career for Maher, but you certainly wouldn't rule out him ending it with more silverware over the next two or three years.

The final instalment of our #WeAreHurling series with Cork manager John Meyler is coming up later this week, while you can watch back on our previous interviews with Michael Duignan, Ger Loughnane, Derek McGrath and Jamie Wall here.

SEE ALSO: 'You Miss Playing 5-A-Side A Lot More Than You Miss The Big Things'

 

Balls Team

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