Ronan Maher continues to relish Tipperary challenge
By Cian O'Connell
Ronan Maher believes the future is bright for Tipperary.
The gifted Thurles Sarsfields clubman is adamant that a crop of new talent is getting ready to deliver for the Premier County at the highest level.
Tipperary claimed Munster minor glory in 2015 and 2016, while winning an All Ireland minor title in 2016.
Maher is excited about the potential within Michael Ryan’s panel and Tipperary have handed four starting debuts in their opening two Allianz Hurling League fixtures.
Next Saturday evening's Semple Stadium encounter against Wexford offers another opportunity for Tipperary to audition ahead of the Munster Championship.
“There is a big push and the younger lads are challenging for positions in training and they are really, really competitive,” Maher admits.
“We have a good few lads who are after coming up from Under 21, they have huge natural skill and they are just pushing lads in training. I suppose it has brought a big freshness to the lads that have been there for a while, they are bringing new stuff, especially pushing the older players on.
“They are also very, very talented and they are going to be there or thereabouts in Championship. We need all of those players because there will be a lot of games. These younger lads will love all those games and the challenges ahead.”
A new Championship format ensures the depth of every panel will be examined with four matches in quick succession. “Yeah, exactly, lads are getting a chance to prove themselves in the League,” Maher says.
“You are going to need all of them players, you will need your full panel for the Championship. It is nice going to smooth, there will be injuries here and there, we have suffered a few in the League ourselves.
“That is a chance for somebody to prove themselves at the weekend, to try to nail down the jersey.”
Maher is ‘looking forward’ to what promises to be a fascinating summer of hurling action. “There is an awful lot of talk about the new structure; just as players and as young lads all we want to do is to play games,” Maher states.
“The thing that is standing out is there will be more games and less training, that is something we are looking forward to. It will all be a learning experience, the first year.
“We will adapt then after that, I think this year teams will just try to adjust training sessions, but they won't really know until after this year.
“We are looking forward to it and at the moment we are happy with the new structure. There is nothing much that bothers us, once we are getting a lot of games we don't really mind.
“It is very interesting, teams are back a while now, they started back before Christmas. They are trying to get their pre-season in a lot earlier, that is the only adjustment, training earlier, getting fit for the League.
“A lot of teams were naturally enough going back earlier to do their bit individually. You are just going to have to adjust, with games week on week, you are going to have to recover as quick as you can, the morning and the night after to be ready for the weekend. That is all you can do, to focus for the week at training.”
Maher is certainly primed for another busy stint in the fabled blue and gold jersey.