Jason Forde and Tipperary keen to end their frustrating wait for silverware

All-Ireland glory in 2019 seemed likely to promise more of the same but it’s been a barren run for the Premier County’s senior hurlers ever since

Foot to the floor. Jason Forde has never known it any other way with Tipperary but, just lately, there hasn’t been much of a pay-off for all the effort.

It’s five years now since Tipp won the All-Ireland, the last trophy of any kind picked up by the county’s senior team.

Last season summed up just how things have been going for Tipp since that 2019 MacCarthy Cup success; plenty of perspiration, some inspiration at times but ultimately disillusion at another early exit from the championship.

Since 2019, they have lost three All-Ireland quarter-finals – to Galway in 2020 and 2023 and Waterford in 2021 – and failed to advance beyond Munster in 2022.


Of the 12 teams that will compete in the top-flight of the upcoming National League, only Tipp and Clare have failed to pick up a senior trophy of some sort since Tipp’s All-Ireland win. Mind you, Clare have contested the last two Munster finals while Tipp are praying that recent U-20 successes will eventually pay off at senior level.

Even a Co-Op Superstores Munster Hurling League title triumph would give Tipp a taste of something they may have forgotten at this stage, success.

So is winning something, anything, a must for Tipp in 2024?

“Everything you go in for, you’re going in to try and give it your best and win it,” said experienced forward Forde.

“It’s definitely not as if the group is hanging down with Munster medals or Munster trophies so you do your damnedest. You can’t take your foot off the gas at any stage in Munster, it has to be foot to the floor and that’s what we’ve tried to do. That’s your only ticket to get into the All-Ireland series. So yeah, anything you are in competition-wise you’re just going to go for it.”

Tipp’s first competitive game of the year will be against Waterford in Dungarvan on Sunday.

They met in Thurles last May and Waterford, fresh off three consecutive defeats, beat Tipp to leave the Premier clinging on to the third and final qualification spot in Munster. The previous weekend, Tipp had drawn with Limerick. After the defeat to Waterford they put 7-38 on the board against Offaly before bowing out limply against Galway.

Those are the glaring inconsistencies that Liam Cahill will be desperate to improve upon this year. The positive is that the talent appears to be in place and the mistakes of 2023 can perhaps be written off to a panel in transition, weighed down with All-Ireland U-20 medals, attempting to find its way under new management.

“You can see with the players that have come in in the last few weeks, there’s a lot of youth there,” said Forde. “Liam was obviously involved with the U-21s and then the U-20s and a lot of those have come through in the last number of years, or played their first championship season last year. So you’d expect him to build on that this year.

“Liam has said he’s not announcing his panel until the middle or the end of January so he’s going to give everyone a chance to be looked at.”

Seamus Callanan, Tipp’s captain for that 2019 All-Ireland win, definitely won’t be back.

“A massive player for Tipp for 12 or 14 years,” said Forde. “Look at the scores he put up, what was he, all-time goalscorer in the championship? He leaves a big void that needs to be filled. It will be up to newer lads to stake a claim and for the more experienced fellas to bring them on.”

Forde turned 30 before Christmas and fits into the experienced category. He is praying for better fortune on the injury front this year. He was shooting the lights out last season – 1-45 from just four league games and 2-6 in their Round 1 Munster win over Clare – before pulling up with a hamstring injury.

“It happened 20 minutes into the Cork game, that was the Cork game gone, and the Limerick and the Waterford game,” he said.

“You’ve put in so much work at that stage to get your body into a really good position and feeling fit, so for that to happen derailed your season a small bit. I got back for the Offaly game which was maybe four or five weeks later but it was hugely frustrating.”

Tipp’s relatively early championship exits have at least allowed Forde a rare couple of summer holidays, to Italy and Spain. He feels fit, in mind and body now, but, as ever in early January, remains cautious too.

“Every year when you go back, if you’re not looking to get better or play to a consistent level, they’re not going to pick you,” he said. “You’re just not going to play. You always have to have that kind of fear in the back of your mind too.”