It's time tables were turned on Cats - Maher
Published 16/08/2016 | 02:30
Padraic Maher has echoed the view of his manager Michael Ryan by admitting Tipperary weren't at their best in Sunday's All-Ireland semi-final against Galway and have significant scope for improvement.
Maher, whose thundering hit on Joe Canning along the sideline just before half-time left both players requiring attention, felt satisfaction from their ability to "grind" out a win in a tight match at last but knows such a level of performance will shortchange them against Kilkenny in three weeks' time.
The Thurles man says they won't fear Kilkenny and never have despite the Cats' 5-1 win/loss record (plus one draw) over them in the seven championship meetings since Maher made his debut in 2009.
Despite being in a different province, Maher has played Kilkenny more times (seven) than any other opponents (he's faced Limerick, Waterford and Cork six times) and knows what's required.
"We don't ever fear Kilkenny, we never did. We came up against them in the '09, '10, '11, '12 championships when they were a top-class team," he said.
"People were doubting them the last few years and they just keep coming and coming. You saw that Saturday again - bringing in new lads and they're delivering the goods again.
"We're struggling to get over the line against them. It's up to us now to turn the tables.
"We've a load of new young lads in there, and they're mad for action too. And that (win) will bring them on a huge amount again.
"We probably didn't give the performance we were looking for, but on the upside, we worked very hard and we ground it out."
Maher said Tipp were never going to blame the five-week break for any performance lull, pointing to Kilkenny's ability to get it right year after year.
"You could say that after last year maybe, we came in a bit stale. But we just kept training very hard the last number of weeks," he said.
"Kilkenny never had any bother with the five weeks or four-week gap over the last number of years, so we couldn't use that as an excuse and we weren't going to."
Maher described his shuddering shoulder that knocked Canning over the sideline was a "spur of the moment thing" and felt his hook on Conor Cooney, just as the Galway man looked primed to score a second goal, reflected how hard the team worked.
"I just got back in time. There was 31 or 32 minutes on the clock at that stage, so if that had gone in would have nearly been a sucker punch."