'Tipp have had cards marked' - English
On three occasions now, Nicky English has been a player on, or a manager of, a Tipperary team as they tried to defend Liam MacCarthy. And all three times he felt it was all going well until it wasn't.
So he can be forgiven if he's a little uncertain what this weekend's clash with Cork and the championship in general might have in store for a Tipperary side hoping it's sixth time lucky in their bid to retain the All-Ireland for the first time since 1965.
"There have been five attempts to this since 1965 and I was involved in three of them, either as a player or a manager, and everyone thinks the preparation was the same," English explained.
"I always thought the preparation was the same the year after as a player. And as a manager in 2002 I thought the preparation was at least as good. But there has been some little half centimetre missing or millimetre missing in the defeats in 1990, in '92 and in 2002 ultimately."
The Tipperary legend admits that the heavy defeat to Galway in the league final can't be easily explained away. English says you could point to the Tribesmen's easier run through Division 1B and ask whether the fallout from the Wexford game, with the suspensions for Davy Fitzgerald and Jason Forde, distracted Michael Ryan's dressing room. But the other reason he offers is much more concerning. And he worries that Tipp are falling into familiar traps the year after winning an All-Ireland title.
sOFTNESS "The other thing you can look at is, is that millimetre of softness that has been apparent before, is that a contributor? And it's possible. So if it's there then there's time to fix it. But that's just a doubt for me."
English concedes that Tipperary people in general tend to get too carried away after a successful season to the point where they leave themselves vulnerable.
"It's difficult to deal with. If you could get over the second (All-Ireland) well then you'd clear that out. But that's very hard to do and in Tipperary the history or the danger has been to get ahead for the Tipperary nation. Now not the team and management, but the whole package gets a little bit ahead of itself historically.
"(We were) 1/4 favourites in the Munster final in 1990, beaten. 1/5 favourites in the 2002 Munster final, beaten. 1/3 favourites against Galway in the league, beaten."
But English reckons that Galway defeat will sharpen minds this weekend and have Tipp in the right place to see off Kieran Kingston's Cork side.
"I'd be very surprised if they (Cork) went with a sweeper system which was very poor last year. Kieran has had longer to work with them. I expect they'll challenge hard and I think they'll get close enough. They'll get closer than they did last year for sure. I'm not sure they'll ultimately win it because I think Tipperary coming off the league final will have had their cards marked in that."