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Dublin: 13°C Saturday 19 September 2020

Liam Sheedy: 'We have some of the best players ever to wear that blue and gold jersey'

The Tipperary manager hailed his All-Ireland winners.

FOR THE EXPERIENCED core of the Tipperary team, yesterday was a landmark occasion.

Liam Sheedy celebrates after the game with Séamus Callanan Liam Sheedy celebrates after the game with captain Seamus Callanan.

Padraic and Brendan Maher, Noel McGrath and captain Séamus Callanan savoured that winning feeling on All-Ireland hurling final day for the third time. The luckless Patrick Maher would have joined them on the pitch only for tearing his cruciate midway through the summer.

Their third success elevates that group in the pantheon of Tipperary hurling greats with Declan Ryaon the only other player from the county to have achieved that feat since the 60s.

For manager Liam Sheedy it is time for due recognition for the current bunch.

“I think this team has had more people saying what they weren’t over the last 10 years than what they were. I suppose we all sat and we honoured the previous captains of teams in Tipperary, but we have a wonderful group of players who have taken to the pitch in this decade and I’m delighted to see that group of players rewarded with another All-Ireland because maybe instead of going back to the Sixties all the time, maybe we should talk about this decade.

“Because I think at the moment in this Tipperary squad, we have some of the best players ever to wear that blue and gold jersey and that’s what makes me honoured and privileged to get the chance to work with them.

“As I said I’ve worked with a lot of those guys since they were minor in 2006, I had Brendan Maher since he was 16 in North Tipperary. So of course they mean a huge amount to me but, I mean, the whole group means an awful lot.

“But I’ve a special connection with that group that I worked with as minors and seniors in 2010, and they’re giving as much to me and to the county today as they were 10 years ago, which is the greatest credit.”

Liam Sheedy celebrates after the game with Padraic Maher Padraic Maher and Liam Sheedy after the match in Croke Park.

Sheedy hailed the defensive contribution of his team in helping to swing the game in their favour after a slow start.

“All-Ireland final days are big days. I even felt in the warm-up, I just felt guys were a little bit – we went to some balls that normally on a Tuesday night in Thurles they pick them and they’re gone, we just didn’t have our flow. Their positional changes, Walter was moving across to the other side and some of that diagonal movement was hurting us a little bit.

“It took us a little while to get to the pitch of it but in fairness to the lads they worked it out, they got to the pitch of it. I just thought defensively we had some heroic performances from Tipp. Seamus, Brendan and Paudie on the half-back line, Barry Heffernan was just a man possessed out there on that field.

“I’m just absolutely thrilled for him, a guy that maybe people said ‘could he make it?’ I think he showed today the real leader and the real man he is today.

Liam Sheedy celebrates after the game with Barry Heffernan Barry Heffernan savours Tipperary's victory with manager Liam Sheedy. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“As for the other two, Cathal and Ronan at the end of the square, he’s a beast, he’s a beast, he trains 100 per cent every night he comes into Thurles.

“So I just thought defensively was where we built that platform today to allow us to get such a great score.”

Captain Callanan maintained his remarkable record in 2019 of netting in every championship tie for Tipperary.

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“Ah look, he’s been superb,” stated Sheedy.

“I don’t know, to score a goal in every round of this championship, when he’s being targeted and he is being marked, I think it is just exceptional.

“Like, the year he’s had – he gave the frees to Jason and he took on his own mantle, and I think the journey he’s gone with this team, the leadership he’s shown because every time he raised the green flag it’s nearly four points because he’s such a character within the dressing-room.

“I’m personally delighted for him, I don’t know did anyone see that in 2001 he sat foot on that pitch and played in the mini games, he went out in 2010 and came off the bench and played a massive, massive role in us winning an All-Ireland title, and here he is today, captaining the team.

“It could not happen to a better guy and what he has given Tipperary over the last number of years, and to me personally, has been phenomenal.”

Sheedy also praised the backroom team who aided him on the sideline.

“I committed to giving this group and this team 100 per cent, and what I got in return was 100 per cent back. Whether we won or whether we lost today, we had given everything we possibly could. I stood there at half three today knowing I had done everything I possibly could to get that team in the best shape of their lives. That was their work and the way they responded and thankfully we sit here at the end of 2019 as All-Ireland champions, so it’s very pleasing from that perspective.

“This journey was never about me, it’s all about the team and the backroom team we put around them. Eamon O’Shea, Tommy Dunne and Darragh Egan are just unbelievable men – all three. And Cairbre doing the S&C, the condition he has got those players in is just fantastic. They challenged the lads and the lads responded. So just thrilled.”

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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