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McGrath: Don't underestimate the impact Sheedy can have on Tipperary

The Premier County are searching for their first win in the round-robin format this weekend.

Shane McGrath and manager Liam Sheedy celebrate with the Liam MacCarthy Cup in 2010.
Shane McGrath and manager Liam Sheedy celebrate with the Liam MacCarthy Cup in 2010.
Image: Cathal Noonan

TWO-TIME ALL-Star Shane McGrath has backed Liam Sheedy to spark Tipperary’s summer into life and pull them out of the poor run of form they’ve endured over the past 12 months.

The pair won an All-Ireland title together in 2010 and Sheedy has since returned to the hot-seat in a bid to steer Tipperary back to the promised land.

The Premier County open up their Munster SHC campaign with a difficult visit to back-to-back provincial champions Cork on Sunday as they bid to put last year’s dismal championship campaign behind them.

Things didn’t improve much during the spring, where Tipperary just about avoided a relegation play-off, but McGrath feels his old boss will really come into his own in the white-heat of championship.

“You can’t take for granted what Sheedy brings to a group,” McGrath said at RTÉ’s Championship launch yesterday.

“I mean, he just has you feeling 10 feet tall. You have every one of those guys from 1 to 33 or 34 on the panel feeling like they have something to offer on the day and I think if you have that within the group, it’s worth you anything.

“Sheedy would demand the best out of you, like you would demand out of yourself.

Liam Sheedy Sheedy during the league. Source: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

“Like, I remember Sheedy came into us after we got a bit of a trouncing against Kilkenny in the league early on in his managerial career in the seniors and he said, ‘Look, that’s on me today, lads’.

“But then the next day if we didn’t perform, he’d say, ‘That was ye’ and I think it’s the respect that we would have for him, and every player that worked with him or heard about what we did.

“It’s just a massive respect so that if Liam Sheedy told you to run over and touch that white line, you’d run over, you wouldn’t stop before the white line, you’d touch it and come back.

“Getting Sheedy back for the boys, there’s such a good feel factor about it and the lads have responded.”

Much has been made of Limerick’s sizeable backroom team, but McGrath feels Sheedy has put excellent structures in place too. Former Premier manager Eamon O’Shea was a welcome addition to the coaching ticket during the league.

“That’s what you get off him,” continued McGrath, “you’re willing to do anything and if you think about the backroom team he has with him as well, like Darragh Egan is a brilliant coach, he has a great hurling brain. Tommy Dunne, Eamon is after coming in and getting involved as well.

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“These are all guys who just bring positivity to the dressing-room. There’s no, as somebody said to be before, energy sappers in that dressing-room, there’s no-one saying, ‘Ah, you’re not going great’.

“Everything is positive and if it’s not good, they’ll let you know straight away and straight to your face, they don’t let it linger for a month or two and then say it to you. They say it to you that night in training or after a challenge match.” 

Shane McGrath RTÉ Sport pundit Shane McGrath. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Cork will be a formidable test and McGrath recognises the impact a victory could have on these players.

“Defeat wouldn’t be the end of the world but I think a win is massive. The last time we won a big championship game was probably the 2016 final.

“What that would mean, the relief and the pressure that goes off players, if you can finally get a big win in the championship. Look at Limerick, they are playing with a freedom this year that we didn’t see last year and they’re trying things.

“They nearly had to win that All-Ireland last year because it was so long and now they’ve won it I think the pressure is off them and they can just go and express themselves.

“I think if this Tipp team can get a win be it down in Páirc Uí Chaoimh you will see a release of tension in energy from the group and they might just go out and start expressing themselves more because last year I felt they wanted the win so bad they nearly wanted it too much.

“They were getting the draws and were so close to the line and the thing against Clare, I think once they get that win the group will really start to motor with confidence in themselves. 

Overall, he’s excited for it all to kick-off.

“I think hurling’s in a good place,” he smiled. “Back to the Nineties.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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