Lar Corbett: Believe to achieve
If you don’t trust yourself and your team-mates when the pressure is on, nobody else will
ALL-Ireland champions Kilkenny blasted out an ominous warning with their clinical demolition of Dublin in last Saturday's Leinster semi-final. Any neutral, or a betting man with a few bob to spare, would view the Cats as unstoppable based on the evidence from Portlaoise.
They're visualising Eoin Larkin climbing the Hogan Stand steps in September to collect the Liam MacCarthy Cup and looking forward to cashing in the dockets.
It seems that the pretenders to the throne are mere dots in Kilkenny's rear-view mirror. We'll just keep on doing what we're doing.
As I said after last Sunday's victory over Cork, we have to believe. Did we believe that we were going to win at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last weekend, at a venue that hasn't been a happy hunting ground historically for Tipperary? Yes -- and we'll carry a similar belief to Cork on July 15 for the Munster final against Waterford.
We haven't seen the last of Cork in this year's championship either. I'm backing them to make a huge impression through the qualifiers -- Jimmy Barry-Murphy has found some new young hurlers who are already up to championship pace.
That's a sign of real progression in any team and overall, it was a really good contest. Cork had 12 points on the board with less than 21 minutes gone and we were chasing the game for spells before eventually pulling through.
I was asked about the match by reporters afterwards and my comments about belief have accounted for some column inches since. Allow me to elaborate.
Individually and collectively, there was a belief that we would come through. There's simply no other option when the game is on. And when it's in the melting pot, as it was in the closing stages, if you start doubting your ability or questioning your team-mates, you have no chance of matching a talented and highly motivated opposition.
But if you keep on doing the right things, taking the right options and believing in what you are doing, then you have some chance.
On the flip side, if you start to double-think things and question yourself, the ball is gone before you've even switched on. So, to have any chance in championship hurling, you have to believe in yourself and your team-mates.
You must keep the faith throughout the entire 70 minutes, whatever your role is on the day.
There are several famous quotes about believing in yourself as the starting point to success. And it is certainly an important component of a successful team package.
One of my favourite quotes is from Jon Bon Jovi. "Believe in love. Believe in magic. Hell, believe in Santa Claus. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don't, who will?"
That sums it up.
If you don't believe in what you're doing when the pressure comes on, who will?
I was pleased to be introduced as a substitute last Sunday.
My role before the game was to ensure that my attitude was right from when the team was announced on the Thursday evening before the game, to ensure that I was positive in the dressing-room, that I possessed high energy levels and that I could contribute when I did come on.
When you're introduced, you do what comes natural as a hurler. What precedes all of that is just as important -- if not more so. Everything must be right so that you're switched on when the call comes from the manager.
If I'm caught up in the occasion, the noise of the crowd or any other external factors, well then I'm not focused on the job at hand. My job was to contribute on the team, make my runs, get on the ball.
Was I happy with how I did? Look, I don't think I'm ever happy with my contribution. I laid off a handpass for the goal, okay, but I always look at what I could have done. A few balls got away, maybe I looked rusty. I'll work on that for the next few weeks.
In Leinster, Kilkenny again looked fantastic. But what's happening in that province is nothing do with us at the moment. It's pointless to even contemplate meeting a team from Leinster because we're about to come up against a serious Waterford team out to set the record straight this year.
It's a pity for both teams and supporters that we can't play the game in Thurles, which seemed to be general preference.
Over 36,000 spectators were in Cork when we played Waterford in last year's Munster final but I firmly believe that playing this year's decider at Semple Stadium would have guaranteed an even bigger attendance.
I don't mind that it's fixed for Páirc Uí Chaoimh but you would have had more bums on seats in Thurles. Obviously the GAA hasn't hit recession point yet.