Pádraic Maher ready to soldier on for Tipperary cause

One of the county’s greatest defenders will rejoin Bonnar’s squad once fully fit

Pádraic Maher has insisted he still has more to offer the Tipperary hurlers but doesn't expect to be in a position to do so until midway through the national league.

The three-time All-Ireland winner and former captain will turn 33 next month but is committed to returning to Premier County duty under new Tipp manager Colm Bonnar.

He hasn’t rejoined the panel yet though as he deals with an ongoing ankle issue “which will probably require surgery” following retirement and “a couple of small issues, nothing major” and doesn’t expect to feature in the early rounds of Tipp’s Division One, Group B campaign.

Time isn’t on Maher’s side as Tipp will cram five rounds of games into just seven weekends between February 5th and March 20th when activity begins.

"I'd be surprised if I'm going to be involved in the early stages of the league," said Maher, speaking at the announcement that FBD Insurance have secured the naming rights for FBD Semple Stadium.

“Even if I do get myself right, I haven’t been training as much as the rest of them so I don’t think I’ll be available for selection for the first couple of rounds I’d imagine.

“I don’t know how the next few weeks will go but in fairness to the lads they just said, ‘Go get yourself right 100 per cent’. You don’t want to go into training, trying to contest and not being 100 per cent.

“I just want to be 100 per cent going in, knowing that I can give everything, that I can do all the training. I don’t want to be standing on the sideline or I don’t want to be pulled out of certain drills, or not doing certain things.

The future

“I want to do everything 100 per cent so please God in another two or three weeks, I’ll be able to go back in and go full pelt from there.”

Brendan Maher, almost exactly the same age and a close ally on Tipp teams since the late 2000s, retired last August.

The core of players that impressed during Tipperary’s All-Ireland under-21/under-20 wins in 2018 and 2019 are seen as the future though six-time All-Star Maher didn’t consider following his namesake into retirement.

“If I can get myself right physically and mentally, I can still offer something to the jersey,” he maintained.

“At the end of the day, you don’t want your career to just peter out. You’re not going to be hanging in there for the sake of hanging in there. I still feel if I’m right, I have something to offer the jersey. There’s a little bit of that and trying to help and guide the young lads in any way at all.”

Since capturing the Liam MacCarthy Cup in 2019, Tipp have contested six championship games and lost four, leaving them well in Limerick’s slipstream.

“I don’t think we’re as far away as people say but we still have a lot of ground to make up and we have a lot of things to sort ourselves before we can be talking about beating any of those teams yet,” said Maher.