Tipperary minor hurlers will go into Sunday’s All-Ireland semi final as slight underdogs against reigning champions Galway, a team in form and a county with an awesome record in the competition in recent years.
In his first year as minor manager, William Maher has steered this group of players to a Munster title and are now one step away from appearing in an All-Ireland final.
The Ballingarry man had to cope with having ten of his players involved with the county minor football team throughout the campaign with those players now giving their undivided attention to the hurling since the footballers were knocked out against Mayo.
“It is a lot of players but it worked out well because we managed it very well between both management teams and we have had the lads back now since the defeat to Mayo,” said the manager.
He is very happy with how training is going and while their preparation for Sunday has not involved many challenge matches, he is pleased with how things have progressed since their Munster final victory over Clare.
“We have played the county U/21s in a challenge and things are going fairly well for us leading up to the semi final,” said the manager who won a minor All-Ireland title as captain with Tipperary in 1996 and a Munster title in 1997.
Maher said the minors could have put in a better team performance against Clare in the Munster final which they won by four points.
“We did not play great in the Munster final but still won which is great to see in a young team,” said the Ballingarry man.
He said a semi final was all about winning on the day and getting through to the final and they know that Galway will provide a massive challenge.
“They are the form team, they are the All-Ireland champions and their manager has a great record having won six minor All-Ireland minor titles so they are the favourites on the day,” said the manager.
The fact that the minors play prior to the seniors on Sunday will be a big help according to Maher who believes that by the time the minor match reaches the decisive stage in the second half that Tipperary should have a massive support in the stadium.
“That is bound to be a big help to our lads, to have a big Tipperary support behind them in such an important match,” he said.
His only injury doubt going into Sunday surrounds dual player Dylan Fitzelle who picked up a back injury during the football campaign.
“We don’t know if Dylan will be fit for Sunday but we will wait for as long as we can to see if he can make it,” he stated.
“We have a fantastic group of lads, they are under no pressure and we will be treating it as just another game. It is a fantastic opportunity for them to play in Croke Park and they should enjoy playing there. Semi finals are for winning and our lads are capable of doing it on the day,” he insisted.