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Brendan Maher

Brendan Maher

Brendan Maher excited by new Championship format


ByJohnHarrington


TipperaryhurlerBrendanMaherisalittlebitmoreinvestedinthePwCHurlingAll-StarstriptoSingaporethananyotherplayeronthetrip.

He’sanemployeeofsportsmarketingagencyTeneoPSGwhocountAllStarssponsorsPwCasoneoftheirclients,sohewasmixingbothpleasureandbusinesswhenheflewoutwiththerestofthe70-strongpartyyesterday.

“Yeah,doingabitofdouble-jobbing,”saidMaheryesterdayinDublinairportjustbeforetheplayersflewouttoSingapore.

“No,lookit,firstandforemosthereasaplayer,butobviouslythere'saworkconnectionwithTeneoPSGandPwCareaclientofourssoI'mwillingtohelpoutinanywayIcan.”

Mahertookacareerbreakfromprimary-schoolteachingthisyeartojoinTeneoPSGandtesthimselfinadifferentworkenvironment,andsofarhe’sfounditarewardingexperience.

“You’regettingtoseetheothersideoftheworkthatgoesonbeforeallofthesetripsandevenonmatchdays,”hesaid.

“Anyofthemediaeventsthathappen,IwasjustusedtoturninguponthedayasaplayerandjustgettingthroughtheactualdayitselfwhereasnowI’mseeingalltheplanningandpreparationthatgoesintoitsoyoucanappreciatetheworkthatgoesonbehindthescenes.

“It’sabitlikeourselvesintraining,peoplecomeandwatchusinmatchesbuttheydon’trealisewhatgoesonintrainingsoit’sverysimilarsodefinitelyamuchgreaterappreciationforwhatgoesoninthebackgroundinorderforthesethingstohappen.”

MahernowcommutestoDublinforwork,butdoesn’tanticipatehisnewcareerinanywayimpedinghiscommitmenttoTipperaryhurling.

“No,Isupposethey’reasportsagency,theyverymuchaccommodating,”hesaid.

“TheywantmetodoasbestIcanonthepitchaswellsoIjusthavetobeflexiblewithmytimeandmanagemytimewellandmakesurethatneithersidesuffers.I’musedtoputtinginhardhoursandhardworkandtraining.”

MaherhadtowatchfromadistanceyesterdaywhiletheGalwayhurlersontheAll-StartripwerepicturedinDublinairportwiththeLiamMacCarthyCup,andthatsightservedtowhethisappetiteforthe2018campaign.

“Yeah, definitely. I suppose we’re all here now and 2018 is in the back of your mind and everything is starting a little bit earlier now so we’re back training and it doesn’t be long coming back around.

“But definitely, yeah, when you see the lads with the cup there, you’d be thinking back to ‘16 yourself saying, ‘We had that but we want it again’.”

The 2018 hurling season is shaping up to be a seriously competitive one with a whole host of teams genuinely believing they’re in the running for silverware.

The new format of the provincial championship adds an extra layer of intrigue, and Maher admits the players are looking forward to what the new year will bring as much as the hurling public are.

“Yeah, it is wide open,” he said. “You’d be kind of looking around, you have Waterford, Cork, Clare, Kilkenny, all these teams are knocking around.

“You’re kind of thinking, we need to be ready to go now at the end of January and hopefully get a run of games and a good League and we’re into the mayhem of the Munster Championship then so lots to look forward to, lots of games which is good from a player point of view.

“It’s going to be difficult to manage the training schedule in the mix of it all because it’s going to be a case of maybe just recovering between games rather than training so that’s why we kind of need to get the work done a bit earlier now.”

Maher believes the new championship format that will require teams to win five matches in seven weeks to win a provincial title will benefit those counties with most genuine strength in depth in their panels.

“Definitely because there’s no way you could put out the same 18/19 players every week and expect performances the whole way through because it’s going to be every week,” he said.

“So yeah, we’re going to have to use as much of the panel as possible but, from a player point of view, I hope I’m not rotated too much, I want to play every game! That’s going to show how competitive it’s going to be. If you’re not performing, there’s lads going to be thrown in instead of you.

“I think it’s going to be a real true reflection of the best team because there’s more games and not that you have more chances, but you have more games to play without progressing to the knockout stages.

“At least four games to play so you’re going to have an idea of where you’re at where sometimes with the old format, you only had one game, you were knocked out of provincial and you had to wait them four or five weeks to play your next game so you never really got that flow going but at least now with the new format, you have four weeks, four games, you’re going to get a real true reflection of where the team is at.”

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