'We started to overthink everything' - Brendan Maher on why Tipperary came up short in All-Ireland race
Tipperary senior hurling captain Brendan Maher has said that his side overcomplicated their preparation for their All-Ireland title defence in 2017.
The 2016 champions reached the All-Ireland semi-final before losing to eventual winners Galway in a thriller at Croke Park, but Maher said that the pressure to defend their title made his side overthink their preparation.
“I think in relation to this year, the one thing I found was that we actually started to overthink it,” Maher told Brian Barry at the One Zero conference at Croke Park on Tuesday.
“We were so conscious about not being complacent that we ended up overtraining, overthinking everything, reaching all the time and our performances suffered because of it.
“We had a ten-week stint during the year where we were training flat out and we didn’t have one rest session. We thought we were doing the right thing at the time as we thought this was for the bigger picture. We wanted to peak for championship.
“But we ended up suffering a heavy defeat in the league final and it knocked us back so far that we were reaching to get back to where we were.
“It would be very easy to say they were complacent and that they didn’t get to the levels they were, but it was probably the opposite and we overthought everything and we overtrained.
“The whole country was telling us that we couldn’t be complacent and we acknowledged that at the start of the year but we probably went a little bit too far.”
Maher said that the losses can be tough to compartmentalise, and that Tipp’s 2015 loss to Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final was particularly difficult to handle, but that his competitive edge often re-energises his drive ahead of a new season.
“The worst one was in 2015, that was probably the toughest time I’ve ever had,” added Maher on the loss to Galway.
“As a player you’re putting so much into something and you just feel like you’ve given 100%, that you’re prepared, that you’ve ticked every box, and you just see if you can get over that final line.
“There would be doubts and you’re sitting at home going ‘is it worth training six times a week?’ Giving up all that time.
“After the loss against Galway in 2015 I went back to my club and I was enjoying it so much. You kind of start thinking to yourself would I be better off playing with the club and just enjoying it?
“But then that whole competitive edge comes back into you. I think we are in a position that we are in because we want to achieve as much as possible. We want to get the best out of ourselves.”
Two All-Ireland winners medals and two All-Star awards certainly support that theory.