Maher and Borris eye up perfect end to 2019

‘We’re going down there to win, and that’s the mindset we have,’ says Maher as underdogs Borris-Ileigh face Ballygunner

Brendan Maher: “Experience is great, but I think the little bit of youth and freedom we have I definitely think is going to work in our favour.” Photograph: Getty Images

Brendan Maher: “Experience is great, but I think the little bit of youth and freedom we have I definitely think is going to work in our favour.” Photograph: Getty Images

 

Brendan Maher’s epic season continues. He won his third All-Ireland with Tipperary last August, and since then has added a third All Star and a first county title with his club Borris-Ileigh.

If for a while the Munster championship was charted as that carefree land “bonus territory”, the club’s presence in Sunday’s final probably undermines such happy-go-lucky attitudes.

Borris also have tradition in this championship, and leveraged their previous county title in 1986 into Tipperary’s last club All-Ireland.

Says Maher: “The nature of us all and the competitiveness in us all, we’re not going down there on Sunday to make up numbers, or we’re not going down there thinking we can’t win. We’re going down there to win, and that’s the mindset we have.”

They will take part in a third Tipperary-Waterford Munster club final this decade. So far the verdict is split: Thurles Sarsfields breaking even with De La Salle between the 2010 and 2012 deciders.

This is a little more daunting in that Ballygunner are the defending provincial champions, and a side that in all likelihood have their sights ultimately set on higher things.

Maher is not under any illusions about how the match appears to the public at large – nor about the incongruous situation of a Tipperary team being such underdogs.

“But that’s the way club championship works and people look at the county set-up but it’s completely different [at club level]. That has been proven over the last number of the years with the club winners. If you go through the Ballygunner team they’re flooded with intercounty standard players and their results speak for themselves.

“We’re coming off our first county win in 33 years, they’re coming off their sixth win in a row, so they’re way further ahead of us in development. We have a young team, they have experience and young lads coming in. 

“Experience is great, but I think the little bit of youth and freedom we have I definitely think is going to work in our favour. There’s no pressure on us, I suppose.”

Winning manager

The Tipperary champions do have the benefit of experience on the sideline though in the person of a former All-Ireland winning manager with Portumna. According to Maher it was especially useful in the short turnaround of seven days between winning the county title and facing Glen Rovers from Cork in the provincial semi-final.

“In fairness, the experience of Johnny Kelly was massive that week. He spoke of his experience with Portumna, their first win I think. They ended up getting caught by Dunloy [the 2004 All-Ireland semi-final] and he referenced that a couple of times during the week and the regret they had.

“We enjoyed the county final, we celebrated it like we would have if we didn’t have a game, but on the Wednesday night we got back down to training and there was a serious chat after that to say ‘we have four days of operation so let’s give it everything. We may as well while we’re here’.”

* Next year’s women’s football championship will be organised on the basis of two six-team groups, with the top two in either progressing to the All-Ireland semi-finals. The Leinster championship has been abolished for 2020, and other provincial championships will be organised as a knock-out format. The bottom counties in the groups will contest a relegation play-off unless they have won their provincial championship, in which case they will be exempt.

The two groups will be finalised at the next central council meeting of Cumann Peil na mBan.

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