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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 7 July, 2020

'We’ve been waiting for this an awful long time' - Tipperary glory and moving onto Munster

Brendan Maher and his Borris-Ileigh team-mates take on Glen Rovers on Sunday.

Brendan Maher celebrates with his Borris-Ileigh team-mates at the final whistle last Sunday.
Brendan Maher celebrates with his Borris-Ileigh team-mates at the final whistle last Sunday.
Image: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

NOT MUCH TIME to bask in the glow of county final success.

For Borris-Ileigh that 33-year stretch without a senior hurling crown to their name came to a close last Sunday, an afternoon of delight after a bruising and harrowing year for the North Tipperary community.

They celebrated well this week but cannot put their hurleys into storage and relax for the winter. A Munster semi-final beckons on Sunday in Semple Stadium, the scene of their local glory seven days previous.

Glen Rovers will make the trip up to Cork to face them, spearheaded by Patrick Horgan. Brendan Maher, the nucleus of the Borris-Ileigh team, spent last Friday night at the Convention Centre in Dublin with Horgan for company as the best hurlers of 2019 were feted. 

“I think Patrick Horgan was trying to play mind games with me on Saturday morning at the breakfast there. I met him after the All Stars.

“He said that they had poor numbers at training on Wednesday after losing, he said they’re struggling. I said, ‘Go away out of that, you’re only saying that!’

“It’s great that it’s on here so it’s another game to look forward. Just seen highlights of a couple of their games and obviously they have the couple of big names.”

patrick-horgan Patrick Horgan will be a key figure for Glen Rovers on Sunday. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Glen Rovers face the tricky scenario of trying to pick themselves up after a loss, Cork champions Imokilly declared ineligible due to their divisional status.

Borris-Ileigh have no such problems, bounding into this game after a major breakthrough with the final win over Kiladangan.

“We’ve been waiting for this an awful long time. We kind of had teams over the years that had been challenging, nearly there, getting beaten by a point in a quarter-final, by a point in a semi-final in ‘13 and we got there in ‘17 and just didn’t (perform) an absolute horror show against Thurles so to get back here this year, we wanted to make sure that we made hay.

“Look, the team has been very solid all year and we had everyone injury-free coming in today which was massive for us. We’ve suffered with injuries over the last couple of years, that has cost us because we don’t have the numbers. To have everyone injury-free coming in was a massive boost for us so training went very well.”

Tipperary’s 2016 All-Ireland winning captain has been the mainstay of his club side for some time with rewards thin on the ground.

“My first season was 2005, (so) fifteen seasons. I thought we were going to get there with the team we had in ‘07 and ‘08. That was a chance lost. We had a serious team and got beaten by Loughmore here in ‘07 in a quarter-final.

“That crop went away in about 2012, started to go away, but since the new young lads have come on I was like, ‘Yeah, we have a great chance here now of something’.

“Didn’t think it would come as quick maybe if I was being honest but ‘17 was definitely a shock to get to a county final with the team that we had. We had a lot of young lads that were coming on but then to bring on the two boys, Kevin (Maher) and JD (James Devaney) and Ray (McCormack) and that coming on the last couple of years, Jerry Kelly, they’ve just been huge additions to us.”

james-devaney-celebrates-scoring-a-goal James Devaney celebrates his goal for Borris-Ileigh last Sunday. Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

Sunday will be the latest chapter in what has transpired into a memorable season for Maher. Collective success achieved with Tipperary for his third Liam MacCarthy Cup win and individual recognition with that third All-Star award.

After 2018 was wrecked by cruciate ligament damage, it is a tale of brilliant restoration but not one the 30-year-old is inclined to dwell on.

“I don’t really take those things in and think about it too much until you’re finished so I still can’t even get next week’s game out of my head. Whenever the championship finishes and you kind of have that time to sit down and relax and you’re not thinking about training or you’re not thinking about anything, that’s when you can really appreciate.

“Look, a great 12 months but whatever I had with the injury is nothing compared to what some of the families in Borris have gone through so it means an awful lot to be able to give them a bit of joy.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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