Padraic Maher is flanked in the half back line by his brother Ronan, and his great friends Brendan Maher.
In association with Tipperary Water
They often say that to build a sound house, you need to have a solid foundation. Well, that surely applies to building a hurling team too, and Liam Sheedy and his management members have gone all out to ensure that the all-Maher half back line is the launching pad for his charges.
Granted the modern game dictates that defenders in particular, must be flexible and must be able to take up positions across all of the rearguard, but it still does not dampen the selectors desire to keep the Brendan, Padraic and Ronan half back line together and in-tact.
All three have won All-Ireland senior hurling medals already from the half back line and when Brendan returned from the cruciate ligament knee injury sustained against Clare last summer, he wasn't long about slotting into the half back line, taking up position at number seven initially. Ronan Maher has had outings at midfield, centre forward and corner back under the Sheedy regime, but it wasn't long until the management team recognised that the Maher iron curtain needed to be pulled across in order to protect the side from ace protagonists.
Right half back: Brendan Maher
Of course, Padraic Maher has been the rock at the heart of the Tipperary defence for over a decade now, and he too has featured at wing back and at full back. But, he has made the number six jersey his own in recent seasons, despite a few pretenders to the throne – including Ronan. There has been no better Tipperary player in recent times and his calming influence and ability to rise the team is second to none. What a leader he is.
Left half back: Ronan Maher
But, leadership comes easy to the three Mahers in the Tipp defence. Brendan has already led Tipperary to All-Ireland senior hurling glory, to follow on from doing the same as a minor. Padraic has been a senior captain and captained Tipp to win the All-Ireland u-21 crown in 2010. And, Ronan will surely be a senior captain in the seasons to come as he continues to show the kind of courage, drive and leadership qualities which set him apart – his performance against Wexford in the All-Ireland semi-final was massive and reminded everyone, once again, of what a major influence he is on the Tipperary team.
Liam Sheedy has looked to Brendan and Ronan to put out fires all season long, and it is likely that he will do the same in the final. Brendan shadowed Clare's Tony Kelly in Ennis and kept him out of the game, while Ronan was given a job to do against Limerick in Thurles and did likewise. They will be handed specific tasks on Sunday too with Brendan possibly being detailed to man mark TJ Reid; Ronan to perhaps handle Colin Fennelly, and Padraic to enjoy a battle royale with Walter Walsh. These would appear to be the obvious match-up's, but of course as we all know, both management teams could w