Premier leader determined to point the way to better days
“I just got away from it all. I obviously kept in touch with everybody through the joys of Twitter and whatever. It was nice to get away from it all and get a break. It was just seeing that there is a bigger world there outside of the GAA. While we love the GAA and it is our lives while we’re involved in it, most people in the world don’t know where Croke Park is or even what hurling is.
“I think it has made me think about things a little bit more now. If I’m getting too uptight about a match or getting worried about what we’re doing, I just kind of sit back and think that there is a bigger world out there. People have a lot of problems and those problems are lot bigger than mine. Someone said to me one of the days there, ‘May your biggest disappointment in life be losing a match.’
“It’s true, like. Life is very good. While we put everything into playing hurling, people do have bigger problems these days – health issues, money issues, whatever.
“So I think going away made me realise that a bit better. It’s great to win, it’s great to be involved. But if we lose a game, we have to move on. There’s worse things in life than losing a game.”
Laudable and all as his perspective sounds, it’s hard to imagine he’d have had many takers for it around home had he spent the winter there.
The All-Ireland semi-final was such a thick and unctuous fiasco-pie that the remnants of it were still stuck in Tipperary bellies for months afterwards. The Ballad Of Lar and Tommy was still adding verses right up to the week before Christmas, so much so that every other note they sounded for the year got wiped from the staves. Far away from the noise though McGrath was, the echoes couldn’t but reach him all the same.
“Look, I’ve said it a few times already and I’ll probably have to say it a few times more. A lot of people pin everything we did in 2012 on a 20-minute spell in the second half against Kilkenny. I think people forget that we won a Munster title last year. Five, six years ago a Munster title was brilliant. But that’s the way it is now, people take a Munster title for granted.
“But look, there was a lot of shit went on, a lot of stuff going around about lads on a personal level, which is wrong. We didn’t go out to play bad. We go out to play for Tipp, we represent the county and we do our best – whether that’s training or a challenge match or a big day up in Croke Park. But it went wrong against Kilkenny and we got abused for it.
“And I suppose it was great just to get away from all that. As a bunch of players now, we really have put that behind us, we never talk about it anymore. If people are dwelling on it, we’re not the ones who are.