Tuesday 20 March 2018

Brendan Maher: Criticism of players has become too personal

Brendan Maher, Tipperary
Brendan Maher, Tipperary
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

GAA players should not be judged as people by what they do on a field, Tipperary's Brendan Maher believes.

Maher admits it can be frustrating to hear critical comments directed towards inter-county players that can go beyond the mechanics of what is actually happening on the field or their involvement with a county team.

"It would frustrate me a bit when I hear people giving out about certain players, almost like accusing them of certain things as a person nearly as much as a player.

"You are judged on the field nearly as a person by the way you perform so things like that would frustrate you.

"Our motivation and commitment levels are the same each year. You are 100pc committed and anyone who questions a GAA player's commitment doesn't really know what they are talking about.

"It's an amateur sport and people sacrifice their lives to play the sport they love. To question the commitment of anyone who steps out on that field - why would they be going out there?" he asked.

"But it is all part of it and human nature to criticise. The Irish are a bit negative in a lot of ways. We just have to deal with it. It is the nature of the beast at the moment."

Tipperary felt the wrath of their public at times last year, especially after losing to Limerick in a Munster semi-final.

But their recovery throughout the summer won the hearts and minds back and Maher admits the two All-Ireland finals against Kilkenny, at the end of a rollercoaster season were great "life experiences" even though they drew and then lost.

"To go through all the emotions and be able to come through a lot of obstacles and lot of challenges, then have the experience of playing in an All-Ireland again and experience the whole euphoria that comes with, that was great.

"It (defeat) is probably something that will go with you for the rest of your life, if I am being honest. But I'm not a person that will dwell on the past too much. I always try and look forward and try to be as positive as possible," said Maher.

Maher started at centre-forward in their defeat to Clare in the Waterford Crystal tournament last month and it is a position he is familiar with at club level with Borris-Ileigh.

"I have been moved around quite a lot over the years so I'm used to playing in different positions. It might be new for Tipperary but not me."

Having experienced a three-week break between last year's drawn game and replay, Maher is against the proposal that future replays will have just a six-day turnaround.

"Personally, I'd find it hard to recover in six days. It's such a big occasion it takes at least a week to recover from something like that so I am more in favour of two weeks out. With three weeks, there is a week in between where you are in limbo.

"Six days is very quick. Physically and mentally, it's hard, mentally as much as anything. It is such a big occasion and very draining on everyone involved. If you had a niggle you might recover in eight or nine days but you mightn't recover in six."

Tipperary open their league account against Dublin who they haven't beaten in a league match in the capital since 1990.

"Any time you play Dublin you always get a lot of physicality. They are always highly motivated. I think they like playing against Tipperary," he said.

"We have had some great battles with them over the past few seasons. They will be motivated because of the narrow defeats in the Semple Stadium last year in league and championship."

Irish Independent

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