Maher attributes Tipp's good run to 'just focusing on ourselves' as he prepares for another stern test
There was a silver lining to Tipperary's early exit from the championship last year for Ronan Maher.
As much as being out of the chase for honours at the earliest possible point hurt the Thurles Sarsfields man, it presented a rare opportunity to spend the summer abroad.
Having made his Tipperary debut while still a teenager, his summers were usually spoken for.
But with the county side out in early June, the offers rolled in. Maher packed his hurley and headed for the Tipperary club in New York.
"I was never really away so when the opportunity came I jumped on it as quick as I could and I really enjoyed the summer over there and they looked after me really well and like I said I got in the bit of hurling and I wasn't too bad coming back for club championship."
As it happened, they lost the county final over there with Maher's county team-mate Cathal Barrett winning with Hoboken. But this summer will be very different. Tomorrow he'll play in the Munster final but on Monday morning the former Mary I student will report to Templemore for an induction day as he starts his Garda training, following in the footsteps of his brother Pádraic.
First, though, there is the not insignificant matter of trying to beat All-Ireland champions Limerick for the second team in a fortnight. Maher knows a few of the Limerick players well having shared a house in college with Richie English and also played with Aaron Gillane and Darragh O'Donovan as Mary I swept to Fitzgibbon glory.
Focused Despite the nature of the game a fortnight ago that saw both teams with a foot in the All-Ireland series at least, Maher insists it felt like a fully blown championship match.
"I thought there was a big build-up to it," Maher offers.
"We all focused in and it was another championship match for us. You could never tell what way the other matches were going to go. I suppose the way the game panned out in the end it looked like it wasn't… both teams weren't going full belt but I found it a very physical game and there was no one leaving anything behind them so I just think the conditions had an impact on it or whatever.
"But I can say both teams went for it and I suppose I can only speak for ourselves but we were well up for it and we will be again."
Tipperary haven't put a foot wrong in the championship so far, winning all four of their matches but that came after a very sketchy league campaign where Tipp struggled for any sort of momentum.
And Maher admits their focus was on the opening round game against Cork from a long way out, which he says they treated like a "knockout" game.
"In the back of all our minds was the first game, we went back to the old knockout system concentrate on the first game, get over that and move on.
"Every team is probably the same but we did focus on Cork because if you look back to last year after being beaten by Limerick, it was huge punch in the stomach and it kills the momentum from the very beginning.
"And with the new system you have to be winning all your games and taking confidence from each game so we did focus in on Cork but in saying that we were focusing on what we could develop as a team better.
"We got over Cork thankfully and we have taken it game by game after that."
And Maher insists that there is no great secret to how they have turned things around in a year.
"We just focused on ourselves, being honest. We prepare ourselves for every team the same. You might look at a few clips or whatever, individual clips, each player is different but as a team we focus in on ourselves, what we can improve on day in, day out and whatever we set out for ourselves as a team, we try and achieve them and.
"That's what we did for (the last game) and, like I said, we'll refocus now for the Munster final."