Tipperary will need to be at their best on Sunday to overcome a revenge seeking Waterford
It must be all-out action from Tipp on Sunday with the focus as sharp as it was in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
"He who plots to hurt others often hurts himself"
That famous quote from Aesop springs to mind as Tipperary prepare to host Waterford in the Munster senior hurling championship in Semple Stadium on Sunday.
Without a doubt the Deise will come to the stadium they love with thoughts of revenge on their minds. They are still smarting over the goal which never was in last years Munster clash between the side in Pairc na nGael, Limerick when Austin Gleeson was adjudged to have stepped over the goal line and a green flag was awarded to Tipp. The mistake cost Waterford as Tipp managed a draw having been so far in arrears.
So, as the Waterford supporters arrive in Thurles this weekend, their thoughts will revert to that day. But, perhaps the Deise would be far better off concentrating the minds on the challenge which faces them, rather than on the wrong which undid them. By all means, use the wrong as motivational tool, but put too much emphasis on it at you peril - that's what Aesop is getting at.
When you add in the fact that Waterford felt they should have gotten something from last Sunday's clash with Clare in Walsh Park, it's clear that their bus will be loaded down with a consignment of hurt which will give them plenty of incentive - as if incentive were needed for a Munster championship game.
Waterford players love coming to Thurles, and so too do their supporters. But, rather than getting too bogged down on the past, they must sharpen the focus on Tipp. They will feel that they can get a result in Thurles and will have looked at all the other counties beating Tipp on their home turf in recent years - Cork and Clare last year, and Limerick a few years before. They will want to add their name to that list and they will believe that they have the capability of doing so. Furthermore, Waterford are now fighting for their championship lives - lose a second game, and with the All-Ireland champions still to meet, the season could be all but over. Win though, and they are on par with Tipp and could end up battling out that third position with the Premier men.
The Deise always bring tremendous colour and energy to the championship and Sunday in Semple will be no different. But, how will they set up to defend against Tipp? Under Derek McGrath over the last few seasons they mostly adopted a sweeper system thereby ensuring a real arm wrestle. Will it be different this time round? Perhaps - do Waterford believe that they can go head-to-head with Tipp and win? Maybe. Many would feel that they can and many also feel that Tipps showing against Cork was helped by the fact that Cork were so under par for much of the game. That is perhaps an unfair assessment of the Premier lads who were hopping off the ground, but as the season progresses, a more accurate picture of the Tipperary scene will emerge.
Win on Sunday and Tipp are practically guaranteed a place in the All-Ireland quarter final, and maybe in the Munster Final as well depending on other results. So, Liam Sheedy will have achieved his goal of getting out of Munster. But, will the goalposts be shifted to target winning the Munster championship? Why not? Winning silverware never did anyone any harm.
Of course winning on Sunday would also afford the chance to look at other things in the tough, stern challenges of Limerick and Clare in the following weeks. It could give the chance to get much needed championship time into players on the fringes, thereby setting them up rightly for a tilt at the All-Ireland series. That would be a great position to be in.
Lose on Sunday to Waterford, and the route out of Munster becomes a stern uphill battle. Tipp must go to Ennis and defeat Clare. Or, they must beat Limerick in Thurles. At this point in time, 'tis only a real gambler would put the house on positive Premier results from those encounters. The gaps between these games will be a big help though and should allow the bodies to be freshened and recalibrated.
So, it must be all-out action from Tipp on Sunday with the focus as sharp as it was in Pairc Ui Chaoimh seven days previously. It must be high energy, pressing, biting, hooking, tackling and creating chance to take out the opposition. It must be relentless from Tipp and while it might be energy sapping for a side which achieved all of these last weekend, the rewards will be tremendous.
There's a big shout out for Tipp fans to come out in their droves on Sunday and get behind the team. Waterford will travel in force - Tipperary need to match them in the stands as well as on the pitch.
So, get your tickets; get along; and be that 16th player.