Corbett vows to keep Tipp at top
Lar Corbett is determined to ensure that Tipperary will never again experience another All-Ireland senior hurling championship famine.
When the Hurler of the Year collected his first Celtic cross in 2001, he never thought that almost a decade would pass before he savoured another magical end-of-season prizegiving night.
As Tipp struggled to arrest an alarming decline, Kilkenny appeared in the rear view mirror and had little difficulty zooming clear on the all-time roll of honour list.
The Cats then hoovered up six All-Ireland titles before the struggling Premier County emerged from the pit lane with a new, improved model.
Corbett was the hero last September with a historic hat-trick of goals, as Kilkenny were denied an unprecedented five-in-a-row.
And the 30-year-old forward now wants to see Tipperary embarking on their own period of dominance.
"I'm not really a great believer in history repeating itself, but the most important thing that Tipperary have to do is make sure that our house is right on any given day," he said.
"Tipperary has been a very positive place to be over the past three or four years and it's like that again this year, which is great to see.
"But we know that we have no divine right to win the All-Ireland and we're at the bottom of the pile again. We're going to have to work the very same as any other team to try and retain it."
Corbett admitted that there was a period of transition following Liam Sheedy's departure as manager and Declan Ryan's arrival. Tipp's start to the 2011 campaign was slow with successive League defeats suffered at the hands of Kilkenny and Dublin.
But Ryan's charges are unbeaten since then, with three wins from four, and the manner of their 18-point victory over Galway in Salthill last Sunday suggests that They are about to hit peak form in time for the May 29 Munster SHC showdown with Cork.
"It was a fantastic performance against Galway," Corbett acknowledged.
"But we're under no illusions -- Galway just got caught on the day. Shane Bourke coming in there getting 3-4, fantastic, and it's great for a young fellah's confidence. The most important thing we'll take from that is it still gives us a slight chance of getting into a league final."
Corbett smiles when asked if he still retains the same hunger and focus which helped propel Tipp to glory last year.
"You have to ask other people has he still got his focus," he replied. "It's very easy for me to say that I haven't lost it. I don't think I have -- I hope I haven't.
"It's all about your mindset and how you take these things in your stride, winning the All-Ireland and hurler of the year, whatever it is.
"You look back at these things when you retire, but when you're still playing, you're going out marking a corner-back against Wexford who doesn't care what you did yesterday or the year before.
"So you have to remember -- make sure that everything is right, that Larry Corbett and the Tipperary team have everything right going forward. We're not going to get anything soft."
Meanwhile, Tipp captain Eoin Kelly is optimistic of returning from a broken finger for the final round of regulation Allianz Hurling League Division 1 fixtures, against Wexford at Semple Stadium on April 17.
"It's a month next Sunday and I can't give a certain date," said Kelly. "I'd be hopefulof being back for the Wexford game, but I won't say that for sure because I have to try it out in training."