Liam Sheedy is relishing the prospect of managing Tipperary in this year’s Munster senior hurling championship.
Back at the helm for a second time, his premier County charges will open their round-robin provincial campaign against Cork at Pairc Ui Chaoimh next Sunday, Sheedy’s first Munster SHC match at the helm since Tipp lost their opener to the Rebels by ten points in May, 2010.
The Munster championship was knockout at the time, but Tipperary bounced back and won the All-Ireland via the back door.
“Cork haven’t been beaten in Cork for two years, are going for three in a row in Munster, but that’s the challenge, something we’ve got to embrace. I think last year everyone was getting used to the new format, now we’re all aware, more used to it. And I think it will be even better than last year,” said Sheedy.
“I’ve always been a massive fan of the Munster championship, I think it’s one of the best championships around, with massive competition around.
“We found ourselves outside the top three last year, and that’s not a place any of the five teams want to be. So you’ve got to take it game by game. Most of these matches will be decided by a puck of a ball, and you do need that bit of luck as well. But we all know what’s involved, and it’s about performance, week in, week out.” he added.
Sheedy was at pains to suggest that he has the players and a strong panel to take the on the role of beating Cork.
“What I will be pressing home with the lads is we are taking on the man to win the frees and once we are winning the frees I have no doubt we have the players that are well capable of putting the ball over the bar,” said the Tipp manager.
Sheedy admits he has been fortunate to be involved in managing Tipperary teams. He managed the minors and intermediates as well as the senior teams.
“I find myself back at the helm again. It's a role I really enjoy. I have a strong backroom team around me. Everyone I have brought into the set up had worked tirelessly to facilitate this group of players. The reaction I have got from this group to-date could not be complemented enough,”
Look we go to Cork with no illusions about the size of the task that lies ahead. Tipperary teams don’t have a strong record down there. We are aware of the challenge that faces us but we have the work put in. History doesn’t play heavy on us. We have one thing in mind and that is to do well in the 2019 championship,” said the Portroe man.
Sheedy reflects on the changes to the game of hurling since he was last involved in 2010?
“The game or time doesn’t wait for anybody. The pace of the game is picking up. Obviously the restarts (puckouts) have come in for strong emphasis. Every game evolves over time but obviously what ever team scores the most wins.
“Defensively we have a good unit and up front we have a good unit and in the middle is good and the competition for places is superb,” admits Sheedy.
Comparing the championships in 2009 and 2010 when there was only two teams good enough to win the All-Ireland. Today the teams are a lot more bunched. Is it a quest that the standard has got a whole lot better or has the top two come back to the bunch?
“Teams have come forward. If you look at last year, especially at Cork’s performances in the Munster championship. Clare were in hard luck and you have Limerick going on to become All-Ireland champions.
“Don’t forget Waterford either. The Munster championship is the most competitive championship of all.
Reflecting on the recent Allianz Hurling league, Sheedy admits Tipp produced the good with the average.
“There were period sin our play when we were outstanding. We didn’t have any consistency but looking back we definitely had ourselves in winning positions and didn’t convert. As a league we learned a lost.
“From the Under-21 squad we have a dozen who got some game time. Look we have had the league and then the preparation meantime and it had one focus in mind and that was the 2019 championship.
“Last year Tipperary gave themselves with too many battles to climb in terms of giving oppositions ten point starts. We know we can’t do that. We have to bring a level of consistency to our performance, a work ethic to our play which means we become hard to beat in every minute in every game. The boys have really pushed hard and one everything to get into this squad and it is as competitive as I have ever seen.”