Sport Hurling

Thursday 22 February 2018

Donoghue's Tipp knowledge no big advantage - McGrath

Noel McGrath in Croke Park yesterday for a special briefing ahead of Sunday’s Allianz HL Division 1 final against Galway. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Noel McGrath in Croke Park yesterday for a special briefing ahead of Sunday’s Allianz HL Division 1 final against Galway. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

In recent years, two of the GAA's marquee sides, the Kerry footballers and the Kilkenny hurlers, have moved their training sessions behind closed doors.

The logic was simple. In terms of prying eyes, less is definitely more.

They are not alone in that thinking. Inter-county teams put a premium on secrecy and the sanctity of the dressing room and that's what makes Sunday's league final unusual as Galway have two men in their set-up who know Tipperary intimately.

Manager Micheál Donoghue served as part of Eamon O'Shea's backroom team in Tipp for two seasons in 2014 and 2015. At the same time, Lukasz Kirszenstein was the county's strength and conditioning coach.

And over the winter Donoghue was able to persuade the Poland native to leave the All-Ireland champions and join the Tribesmen.

Noel McGrath's exposure to Donoghue was limited as he missed much of the 2015 season through illness but he remembers him as a very capable coach.

Galway boss Micheal Donoghue calling the shots during the semi-final win over Limerick. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Galway boss Micheal Donoghue calling the shots during the semi-final win over Limerick. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Dealings "The first year he was in, he was helping out a bit in 2014. I missed a lot of 2015, so I hadn't too many dealings with him, but I just remember that any time he took maybe a bit of the training or a drill in training that he was very good and knew his hurling," McGrath recalls.

"He knows his hurling very well and I suppose he was just somebody that came in and that the management at the time used and somebody they really respected. From any dealings I had with him he's a top-quality man and I'm sure the Galway lads are really enjoying how he's training and managing them.

"We didn't see him full-time or anything, just whenever the management wanted him to give a hand out. I'm not really sure what way they used (him) in the background, but when we did see him he was top quality, his drills and training sessions were very good.

"That's obviously one of the reasons he got in with Galway because of the way he is able to get a team going. And he was manager of Clarinbridge I think when they won an All-Ireland club.

"So he has good pedigree there and anything we seen from him was top-drawer as well."

Donoghue brought Galway to within a whisker of scalping Tipp in last year's All-Ireland semi-final. But McGrath doesn't believe that any inside knowledge Donoghue may have will make much difference when the sides clash in Limerick in Sunday's league final.

"Obviously he's trained some of us before and has been involved with some of us but I suppose you can talk as much as you want about what could happen or what this lad knows or whatever.

"I think once the ball is thrown in then a game just takes on a life of its own.

"You can prepare for all eventualities but I suppose whatever way a ball breaks or whatever way a refereeing decision goes could change the whole game ... at the end of the day none of us know what's going to happen on that field on Sunday. You just have to be ready to do the best you can in whatever situation you are left in. So I don't know is it as much an advantage as people make it out to be that he was involved with us before. Maybe it will be. We'll see on Sunday."

For the most part, Tipp have picked up from where they left off last season. It's 25 years since they last followed up and All-Ireland final win with a league final appearance and they have bridged that gap in some style.

They have had 19 different scorers so far as Michael Ryan has used 20 players in every game so far in this league, with the exception of the Kilkenny clash.

Having lost three league finals already in his career, McGrath is keen to get his hands on the trophy this time around.

culminated And Sunday gives the Loughmore-Castleiney man a chance to pick up a second piece of national silverware in eight months. And he admits it all seems a far cry from his battle with cancer, which culminated in a return to action for Tipp against Sunday's opponents in the All-Ireland semi-final of 2015.

"As you say, from the low to the high. Of maybe at one stage wondering would I ever play hurling, for club or county, again - to getting back and being on the pitch again. Just getting that buzz of running out in front of big crowds and wearing the jerseys again is massive. So it's great to be back involved."

Irish Independent

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