Maher says mindset is the key to winter hurling
By John Harrington
Tipperary defender Brendan Maher says winter hurling will test the mindset of teams as much as their skillset.
A heavy surface, a wet sliotar, and cold hands all make the technical skills of hurling more difficult to execute, but Maher believes a luke-warm mentality would be more damaging to a team’s chances.
His attitude is that you must approach the game in as gung-ho a fashion in the depths of winter as you do in the heights of summer if you want to be successful.
“It’s a mindset shift as much as anything,” says Maher. “Not letting conditions affect your thinking as in ‘we can’t do this or can’t do that.’
“I think it’s having the mindset to say that no matter what the conditions are, we’ll find a way and I think that’s the approach every team will be trying to have.
“From my point of view, if it’s horsing rain, I just try to have the mindset of ‘right what can I do here to try and perform.’ That’s all it is, you have to believe you can perform no matter what the scenario is.
“I always have this one ‘if it is to be, it’s up to me’ kind of thing. It’s a mindset shift, there is the technical aspect too - that you won’t be going with the one handed touches so yeah, slight changes in both but the mindset is the big one in that, hail, rain or snow, you have to perform.”
It will be interesting to see if teams will tweak their tactics by playing a more direct brand of hurling in this year’s championship.
If the weather conditions are bad that might be a more optimal approach than picking your way up the field with the possession-oriented game that has become increasingly in vogue in recent years.
“Possibly,” says Maher. “Every team will have their own thoughts on it. The weather is going to be so unpredictable so that whichever team can adapt and be adaptable...
“That’s what we’re going to try and be anyway. There’s no point in saying ‘I think this will work.’ It absolutely depends on the day.
“Teams will be considering that, that we may need to do things differently because of the time of the year but everyone’s in the same boat and I think it’s the team that will best adapt will come out on top.”
In the modern era of the game Tipperary have been unable to win All-Ireland titles back to back. You have to go back to 1964/65 for the last time they have done so.
Maher hopes the fact that the team has had an extended break since last year’s All-Ireland success will help their odds of finally ending that hoodoo.
“It’s over 12 months ago now,” he says of Tipperary’s 2019 All-Ireland success.
“There’s a new focus for everyone. It felt like a fresh start coming in and coming back training again.
“Because we had been apart for so long, it was almost as if everyone felt ‘come on, let’s have a go at this. Let’s start to climb the mountain again.’ I would say it helped, I haven’t thought about it much but it is nearly a distant memory at this stage.”