Harte plays up Tipp threat ahead of league decider

Galway corner back looks forward to challenge posed by free-scoring Tipperary forwards

Galway’s Aidan Harte: “We’re not looking past Sunday . . . Will it define our season if we lose the game? Probably not.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Galway’s Aidan Harte: “We’re not looking past Sunday . . . Will it define our season if we lose the game? Probably not.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

No fear, no envy, no meanness. That’s Aidan Harte ’s view of the challenge the Tipperary forwards will present in Sunday’s hurling league final, and the Galway defender is certainly open to embracing it. 

Tipperary hit 5-18 in their semi-final win over Wexford on Sunday, all but one point from play, and now boast 19 different scorers in their seven league games to date. 

Harte, formerly a corner forward now plying his hurling trade at corner back, says that’s one of the obvious reasons he’s in the game: stopping Tipp from scoring on Sunday is mere duty, nothing to fear, play fair, play hard. 

“I wouldn’t say it’s much of a fear. It’s something to look forward to, to embrace,” he says. “You could see that, they were nine or 10 points up on Sunday, and still went for goals. “Bubbles” O’Dwyer who found Noel McGrath there from 30 yards out when he could have slapped it over the bar. Brendan Maher breaking forward from midfield. 

“They’re the form team at the moment. Look like they are going really well. It just shows you at the top level and playing against the top team in the country, you gotta be switched on for 74, 75 minutes. You can’t let your guard down for a second, especially against those forwards.”

News that Tipp’s Séamus Callanan will miss the final through injury hardly lessens that challenge: “We’re long enough around now to know that a team definitely does not revolve around one player. He’s a fantastic talent, but you could see there the last day they brought Michael Breen on at centre-forward and Bubbles Dwyer, so we know that whatever six forwards are wearing Tipp jerseys on Sunday they’ll be hard to handle.” 

Veteran

At 28, Harte is one of the veterans of this Galway team, one of only four survivors from that last league final win over Cork in 2010, when he hit 0-3 at corner forward. Getting to Sunday’s final offers some consolation after failing to gain promotion from Division 1B, and certainly gives them another timely run ahead of their Leinster championship date with Dublin on May 28th. 

“Look, promotion was eminently top of the pile. You want to be playing the best teams, week in week out. That didn’t happen for various reasons. What are you going to do? Down tools in February, or pick up and go again. And that was the obvious thing to do.

“We took it game by game, and [are] delighted to be in the final now at the moment, trying to cut the time between league and championship. Against Waterford was stop-start. Happy with the result, but a bit disappointed with the overall performance. We looked to bring that momentum into the Limerick game, and we did. Once we hit form for the summer it will be great. 

“We have a lot of young guys in the panel and we’re trying to build systems. We’re not looking past Sunday, will go hell for leather. Will it define our season if we lose the game? Probably not.” 

Harte, a schoolteacher based in Offaly, also expects Johnny Glynn, back from the US, to play some part on Sunday: “That’s down to management. He looks in great nick, has played a club game, and I’m sure he’s in the frame. I haven’t discussed it with him, and I’m sure he’s discussing it with the management. 

“We’re just trying to build that level of consistency, have a team that supporters are proud of, that see everybody is giving their all. There is always expectation in Galway, same throughout every county in Ireland. We’re looking forward to the summer. We’re just trying to cut that gap between the league and championship and this is certainly the best way to do so.” 

Tullamore will host the All-Ireland Under-21 football final between Dublin and Galway on Saturday week, with a 5pm throw-in.

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