Pádraic Maher: 'It's going to mean as much if not more'
By John Harrington
Tipperary’s Pádraic Maher does not think the 2020 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship has been devalued in any way by the unique circumstances it will be played in.
There might be no crowds and the weather conditions will be testing, but he knows that if he’s fortunate enough to win a Munster or All-Ireland medal it will just as special as any others he has won in the past.
“It’s going to mean as much if not more,” says Maher.
“At the end of the day, whoever manages to win a Munster final, Leinster final, All-Ireland final in 2020, it'll down in history books as you won it and it's not going to be devalued that way.
“Look, I'd love the opportunity to see what it's like if you do win it, having no supporters or the obvious celebrations that you would.
“At the end of the day, to have that down beside your name in 2020, it would still be as good of a feeling as it would be any other year.”
Tipperary will play the winners of Sunday’s Munster SHC Quarter-Final between Clare and Limerick the following weekend, and Maher is already counting down the days.
“Personally, I can't wait,” he says. “I'm personally looking forward to it. Face into a winter there of just going to work, coming home and lockdown, it would be tough going. Personally, for me, I find it hard.
“It's great that I've something to look forward to, something to aim for. It was a great relief being able to go training there on a Tuesday and Friday with the lads. It breaks up the whole situation that we're in here at the moment. I can't wait.
“Hopefully it gives everyone something to cheer about and something for people to talk about, something to look at the weekends and I suppose, it's something to look forward to and keep minds off other matters that are going on around us.”
As a Garda based in Mayorstone Station in Limerick, Maher has been very busy working on the frontline throughout the pandemic.
The whole experience has given him a greater appreciation of why hurling is a sport to be enjoyed rather than something that should ever weigh heavily on you.
“We get awfully bogged down and upset over hurling matches, whether you played poor, whether you’re losing matches or winning games,” he says.
“You can take things for granted. I’ve certainly seen over the last seven/eight months, there are a lot more important issues in life, when you see people losing family members to sicknesses, people with mental health issues during these tough times. People are finding it hard.
“We do see a lot of these issues in work and it does broaden your mind and for me, I just look at it in terms of do you know, I’m getting a great opportunity to play the game I love playing, to play for the county I love representing and it’s great. I’m just going to enjoy it and make the most of it because at the end of the day, when the final whistle goes, you’re obviously going to be down and out if you lose a game or on the high of winning a game, but life goes on and a lot of people are struggling and it’s opening my mind and my job is to try and help people as best we can.
“Sport it just a small part of that, and it does mean a lot to us, but there are more pressing issues in life and my job has opened my eyes to all that.”
Tipperary’s 2019 All-Ireland Final win feels like a long time ago now, and maybe that might help the Premier County’s bid for success again this year.
“It could, I suppose, yeah,” says Maher. “It feel so long ago now since last August and a lot has happened between now and then. Yeah, hopefully it does give us all that bit of a mental refresh.
“Speaking personally, I'm mentally refreshed and energised again and really looking forward to it. We might not have thought we'd get this opportunity a couple of months ago so, please God, I hopefully used the break as best I could have and I got my body right again and hopefully I can get the rewards of that now again in the next couple of weeks.
“I feel great now, mentally and physically, I don’t think I feel 21 again, but mentally I might feel that bit closer to it anyway! It’s given me a sense of enjoyment, excitement and energy towards playing again."