Sunday 20 May 2018

Forde ready to drive on after steering Tipp's league campaign

Forde thought nothing of the incident at the time. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Forde thought nothing of the incident at the time. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Tipperary's Jason Forde sits now as the best player of the National Hurling League campaign as voted for by his intercounty peers. However, 12 months ago he was in the spotlight for a very different reason.

Forde was the player Davy Fitzgerald tangled with as he encroached on to the pitch during the Premier's league semi-final win over Wexford in 2017. After the protracted fall-out, Fitzgerald was hit with a sideline ban while Forde missed the first round of the championship through suspension.

And in effect his season didn't recover.

"That was kind of hard to take at the time," he recalled. "To be dealing with all the stuff, the possibility of being suspended.

"I didn't know whether it was or it wasn't and I ended up playing the league final then and you find out that you (are suspended) and you miss the first round.

"It's very hard then to come back.

"Because I played the majority of the league up to that point and then I missed the first round."

Forde thought nothing of the incident at the time.

"No definitely not. And Mick (Ryan) actually rang me a couple of days after it. As he was talking to me I thought 'this is actually getting serious here, what's the story?' Unfortunately it was and we ended up having to go up to Croke Park a couple of times. It definitely wasn't ideal.

"Do you know, things happen so fast on the field as well. Looking back, the way that it panned out, you obviously wish you didn't get into that altercation or whatever. You know, these things happen.

"Davy Fitzgerald, in fairness, came out and said there wasn't much in it.

"Most people would be in agreement that there wasn't much in it but I suppose the GAA have a job to do as well and they made a decision. They just had to take it from there really.

"You lose the league final - and obviously the way we did was massively disappointing - and for that to come about as well then was hard to take.

"Your momentum is broken within that then. Definitely this year is looking a lot more positive than 12 months ago."

Forde missed the defeat to Cork in Munster and would start only once - against Dublin - for the rest of the summer.

This time around he finished the league as top scorer having staked a claim for a starting berth in the ultra-competitive Tipperary forward line that has yet to see Seamus Callanan take to the field.

And Forde is enjoying the new responsibility.

"Definitely not pressure or expectation. Just really enjoying it at the minute.

Getting a run in the team brings on confidence like that, and I was lucky enough that I have stayed injury free.

"Over the last couple of years, I had problems with the hamstring and stuff like that, kept me out for a couple of weeks at a time, and then you're trying to get back in, with the club too, and that can affect your season.

"So thankfully I was healthy for all the league and the college and getting the run in the team as well is massive for confidence."

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