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Premier underachievers must stop living in past, blasts 'angry' Stapleton

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Paddy Stapleton, Tipperary, in action against Sean Tobin, Limerick

Paddy Stapleton, Tipperary, in action against Sean Tobin, Limerick

Paddy Stapleton, Tipperary, in action against Sean Tobin, Limerick

PADDY Stapleton is "angry" with Tipperary's recent period of under-achievement.

The 2010 All-Ireland SHC winner wants to help create a fresh new era and accepts that it's time the Premier County stopped living off the past.

Since last lifting the Liam MacCarthy Cup, Tipp's next three championship seasons ended in defeat against Kilkenny.

The Cats won the 2011 All-Ireland final rematch and less than 12 months later, they handed Tipp their biggest championship defeat since the 1800s.

The neighbours met again last July in a seismic All-Ireland qualifier and again, the Noresiders claimed the spoils in front of a raucous packed house at Nowlan Park.

Defender Stapleton returns from a hamstring injury to start against Kilkenny in tomorrow's Allianz League Division 1A clash at the Kilkenny city venue.

And he admits that the pain of last summer's championship exit is still raw.

"Last year in the dressing-room was very tough," he says.

"It was one of the worst ever, because of the rivalry, but more so I have never experienced going out of the championship that early.

"To think that for the next three months you are going to be looking at it on television was very hard, like it would be for any county that would be used to playing in it a little longer.

"It was really difficult and you would look around at some of the older guys and be hoping you'd see the same faces the year after.

"I suffered from a bad enough injury a few years ago and I had that feeling as well, wondering how long more would you be around. But maybe the hurt has given us that renewed enthusiasm."

Stapleton certainly hopes so as he admits that the 2010 All-Ireland winning season is "like another life" now.

And the Borrisoleigh defender doesn't want to be remembered for just one season when he pulls the curtain down on his inter-county career.

"It's like another life. It has been time to create something new for a few years," he says.

"People are still talking about 2010 but for me I am more angry about what has happened since then – nothing, we have fallen into the trap again.

"That has to be gotten away from with fresh new blood.

"You have a long career but to live off one game and one season, I don't think that is a career.

"If you look at a team that hasn't won an All-Ireland, the motivation is massive.

"You can't tell someone the next year or in subsequent years to be motivated.

"You have to have that feeling inside you and I'm not going to say who has or hasn't it, but at times you could say some people wouldn't be.

"Last year I think we were at that stage and we let it slip.

"The All-Ireland in 2010 is well gone, I can't remember most of it or even that season.

"You have a career and an ambition of where you want to go and it isn't just one match in one season."

Stapleton has been named in the half-back line for tomorrow's return visit to Nowlan Park.

The 28-year-old made his name in Tipperary colours at corner-back but he was pressed into emergency service at full-back against Kilkenny last July when Paul Curran cried off with a late injury.

Stapleton insists that competition for places is necessary all over the pitch, as Cathal Barrett gets another chance in the right corner-back position tomorrow.

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Stapleton says: "I think if you are a back you have to be able to play in any position. I often hear Lar Corbett saying he is a forward but not a particular forward.

"It's more or less the same job in most positions but there are a couple of things which are different.

"When I came onto the scene, I was behind Eamon Corcoran and Eamonn Buckley. They needed to be pushed as well. I had the belief – and not many others would have had the same belief – that I would be able to push them on.

"It's the same now – maybe there are the same three or four guys playing in the full-back line the last few years for Tipp, this is happening further up the field. People have to come into the panel and the only thing that will shove us out will be those guys.

"In a way you would be thinking, 'if I were shoved out you'd know Tipp is healthy this year'. I want to keep my position as much as anyone and now more than ever I have to work as hard as I can to keep it.

"When there is someone there that is looking to take your position you can't for one second in training slack off."

Irish Independent