Saturday 17 March 2018

O'Dwyer paying no heed to history as Tipp bid to end Munster champions' All-Ireland jinx

John O'Dwyer confident that Tipperary can end Munster Champions' All-Ireland jinx
John O'Dwyer confident that Tipperary can end Munster Champions' All-Ireland jinx
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

It's the middle of July but John 'Bubbles' O'Dwyer is only just getting his hands on his player of the month award for June.

The man Eoin Kelly insists has the highest skill level he saw during his career has had individual awards pouring in of late. Since winning the June vote, he walked away with crystal after the last weekend's tour de force in the Munster final.

"It's grand to get acknowledged like but you'd rather win something with the team than win something like this," he said at the Opel-sponsored award scheme that also saw Westmeath's Kieran Martin named as footballer of the month.

"It's still nice to get it. It's my first (monthly award) alright, hopefully I might have another few by the end of the year but hopefully we'll have the All-Ireland in our pocket then as well."

O'Dwyer came close to the ultimate prize last year. In fact it was a matter of centimetres. When talk turns to September, it's almost inevitable that last year's drawn final and his free will crop up. He remembers only that it felt good leaving his hurl but otherwise has consigned it to history.

"I still think it was over! Hawk-Eye is there and I think it's good for the game, a system like that, but when you think back we could have won the League in 2014 if we'd Hawk-Eye in Semple Stadium," he laments.

"But it was in Croke Park for an All-Ireland final and we lost.

"As a team we've forgotten about 2014; all we're worried about is 2015. We've won our first match and we've won a Munster title and now it's on to step three and win an All-Ireland title.

"We lost the All-Ireland last year and I missed the free. But we got a second chance and we lost the replay. It would have been a lot worse if I'd missed that free and we'd lost instead of getting the draw.

" It's still going to be at the back of my mind all right so I'll look back on it in years to come but not when I'm hurling. It doesn't really pay any dividends at the moment."

A September Sunday that ends in smiles remains the ultimate aim but there's a real satisfaction in securing Munster honours.

Manager Eamon O'Shea went into the campaign in danger of not winning a game in Munster before his term comes to an end. But when he steps down at the end of this year, he will leave behind a side who are provincial champions.

"We obviously want to win the All-Ireland but still a Munster Championship is nothing to pawn off to the side. We were delighted with the win," adds O'Dwyer.

"We didn't perform in Munster in the last two years, and we eventually got our first Munster Championship win in three years since 2012. Beating Limerick it was kind of a sense of relief instead of joy.

"When you win a game you are delighted but then straight away you are thinking of the next step.

"This year we made a point ourselves that we wanted to take four steps to win an All-Ireland, not seven or eight going through qualifiers.

"So we are onto step three now in a few weeks' time."

Recent history shows that Munster champions don't go well in the All-Ireland series. Last year, Cork were Munster kingpins but Tipp caught them in the All-Ireland semi-final and ran out ten-point winners. In fact the last team to add Liam MacCarthy to the Munster championship was Cork in 2005.

"The record might say it hasn't been good. I know last year we beat Cork and Cork didn't show up but I don't think that has anything to do with winning the Munster championship or a five-week break," says O'Dwyer.

"Before the Limerick game we had a nine-week break and we came out and played well.

"We wouldn't look at the record books. I think it's a good thing we get to go back to the clubs for a couple of weeks and then come back in because then you have only three weeks to prepare rather than five weeks.

"We have three weeks to prepare for either Cork or Galway and we'll do everything in our power to make sure we win that game."

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