Wednesday 15 August 2018

There are eight or nine contenders for 2019 All-Ireland - McGrath

Tipperary star Noel McGrath. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Tipperary star Noel McGrath. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Tipperary star Noel McGrath believes hurling is in rude health and the 2018 season has shown that there are "eight or nine" teams capable of winning an All-Ireland in 2019 on current form.

The Loughmore-Castleiney man insists the game is more competitive than it has been at any point since he made his debut for the Premier in 2009.

"There's definitely a lot more (contenders) than there was five or six years ago," McGrath said at the launch of the GAA's partnership with the HSE's 'Ask About Alcohol Campaign' which aims to encourage fans to "drink less and gain more - on and off the pitch".

"I think there is an amount of teams that could beat each other on a given day depending on how they perform. And we have seen with all the championship matches this year - very few of them have been won by big margins, they have been tight and decided in the last five or 10 minutes.

"Look at Cork-Limerick and how close that was with 10 minutes to go.

"You'd say Cork were going to see it out and they ended losing in extra time, so it is very, very competitive and it's good for hurling the way the championship has gone this year and the matches have been so exciting and long may it continue.

"It's a game we all enjoy and love watching and hopefully it will continue to get better."

"No one wants to be gone from the championship that early especially, but you don't want to go out until the very end.

"It has been disappointing and it's hard looking back and it can be tough watching the game because you want to be involved at the business end. But it is what it is and I suppose you try and get back to your club."

Tipp endured a disappointing year and didn't progress past the Munster round-robin series.

However, McGrath believes the Premier just came down on the wrong side of the breaks.

"I think the last few weeks have shown there's up to eight or nine teams that are able to compete at a very high level.

"The standard of hurling and matches has been massive so you can look at small little things that happened on match days.

"We had our opportunities in different matches that we didn't take and at the end of the day if you don't perform and get the results it's hard to say you could or should have done something.

"Unfortunately it was one of those years where things never kicked off for us."

McGrath (27) is heading into his 11th season with the Tipperary seniors in 2019 but he insists the desire burns as bright as ever.

"You'd know from watching the matches over the last few weeks the feeling you get watching them.

"As I said you just want to be out there and you are jealous and as long as you have that feeling of being jealous and you have the appetite to be performing in the big matches that means the hunger is still there.

"And as long as that is there for me I'd be happy to stay going for as long as you are able."

Irish Independent

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