Chance to work with class of 2010 too good to turn down - Sheedy
As Tipperary stuttered through the league, generally failing to impress anyone in the first few months of Liam Sheedy's second coming, the Premier boss continually reminded us that he was looking at the bigger picture.
"We are ten or 11 weeks out from where the real fun and games begin," he told reporters after they had gone down to Wexford in the league back in February.
They went into the championship with just two wins in their previous 11 competitive matches, but Sheedy was true to his word. When his side pitched up in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, they hit 2-28 and the rest of the country took notice.
"Yes," he replied when asked if he was always confident his side would come good in time for championship.
"You go back through the matches, most of them were lost by a point. We definitely didn't peak too soon but you felt there was something building because we had a lot of guys coming back from injury.
"There was a period there in the league where I wasn't sure had I 26 to tog out on a given day, that's how depleted my squad was. But behind the scenes the work they were doing to get themselves right was moving at pace."
His decision to return looks inspired now, but it's still only a year since they crashed out of the championship at the earliest possible stage. There was a common consensus that many of the players Sheedy had won with in 2010 were at the end of the road, but the Portroe man had no doubt there was another kick in Pádraic and Brendan Maher, Seamus Callanan et al.
"They transformed my life in 2010. The younger guys I had in 2006 as minors probably have a few years left in their careers, so if I didn't come back and join this group now I probably wouldn't get a chance to work with those players I worked with across 2008-2010, so if I could find the time, if there was any group I owed it to (it was them) … they were really good to me previously.
"Michael Ryan is a close friend of mine and he gave nine out of the last 11 years, he had given everything he could as a player, selector and manager. When I sat down and spoke to him, he said if you can find the time, go do it. They are a good bunch and a good group of lads so that's where I found myself. I said I'd give it 100 per cent and do everything I possibly could."
And he insists he never bought into talk that those players were finished.
"Sometimes when you are down, you are not down as far as people have you down and when you are up, you are not as good as you think either. There is a balancing act here and in fairness to these guys I knew these guys and what was in them and how passionate they are about their county, so they have responded really well.
"2018 was unfortunate, they could have found themselves in the top 3 (in the Munster round robin). A puck of a ball in a game they looked to have full control of in Thurles (v Clare) and maybe you'd be looking in at a wonderful summer of hurling. (But) maybe it hasn't done the group any harm in terms of their hunger and appetite for having watched all that went on in the 2018 championship."
Tipp haven't put a foot wrong so far this summer but on Sunday they'll likely face a much different test from Limerick in the Munster decider. However, the quest to get better will continue.
"We have very good players. One of the areas we still have to crack is our discipline. We are still giving away scoreable frees at a higher rate than anyone else. It is going to catch us if we don't sort it out, so by not giving up the free and forcing players to strike under pressure then there is a less chance of it going over the bar. The likes of Peter Duggan, Aaron Gillane don't miss and it's an area we still have got to crack."