Hurling and camogie

Jackie Tyrrell comments about Tipperary 'not helpful' to Kilkenny cause admits Derek McGrath

Former Waterford boss Derek McGrath, who is a member of the Electric Ireland GAA minor star awards panel, believes Tipperary's extra motivation can drive them across the line against Kilkenny on Sunday. Picture by INPHO
Neil Loughran

FORMER Waterford boss Derek McGrath believes an extra edge in motivation will drive Tipperary to All-Ireland glory on Sunday - and feels some of the comments from former Kilkenny star Jackie Tyrrell won’t have helped the Cats’ cause.

Liam Sheedy’s men go into the game as slight favourites to lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup for the first time since 2016, and Tyrrell has suggested there is more pressure on the shoulders of an “ageing” Premier side.

Tyrrell enjoyed plenty of battles with Tipp during a decorated playing career, and pulled no punches when talking about Kilkenny’s greatest rivals in his 2017 autobiography, The Warrior’s Code.

McGrath believes Tipperary won’t be lacking for motivation once they cross the white line, and feels some of Tyrrell’s remarks could add fuel to an already raging fire.

“I’d say it’s not helpful, if I’m honest,” said the former Deise boss.

“He’s never been afraid to shoot from the hip, never been afraid to give his opinion and that’s admirable too. Does it affect players? I’m not sure. Does it affect teams? I’m not particularly sure.

“I think Tipperary will win it. They’ve an advantage in terms of motivation. There seems to be an underpinning emotion that if Kilkenny get in the Tipperary lads’ faces that they’ll crumble, so Sheedy will use that in terms of motivation; they’re questioning your character, your integrity, your attitude.

“It’s easy to question hurling but I think Sheedy will use the fact that he can turn the negatives around the question of Tipperary’s character. I’m not just talking about Jackie Tyrell’s book or anything, just generally; I think he’ll put the squeeze on Tipperary and you’ll see a ferocity from Tipperary.”

McGrath was also quick to dismiss any suggestion that Brian Cody’s team have been in a phase of transition during recent years.

“I think they have 40 All-Ireland medals that will start for Kilkenny on Sunday and I don’t accept the whole transition argument or the argument that Kilkenny are a new team.

“Similarly with Tipperary, they were in the 2016 final, they arguably have the best sextet of forwards in the game. I don’t think Tipp will lack for motivation but I don’t think Kilkenny is as new a team as people think.”

The Cats brought a manic intensity to that semi-final clash that Limerick struggled to get to grips with.

Matching or even bettering that level of performance at Croke Park on Sunday would be a huge ask but McGrath feels that, if any county is capable of hitting that height, it is the Noresiders.

“Even when you look at the celebrations after, they were reminiscent of the 2016 semi-final replay against ourselves in Thurles. It was celebrated in a manner that was unusual for Kilkenny - there was a real defying the odds kind of approach.

“If it was any other team I’d say they’ve played their final, but I wouldn’t question Kilkenny’s ability to bring it again.”

Away from the hurling field and into the RTE studio, McGrath and fellow analyst Donal Og Cusack drew a wide range of opinions following a lively discussion on the use of the sweeper system.

The debate took place on The Sunday Game in the wake of the All-Ireland semi-finals and McGrath admits that, upon reflection, it is an episode he will learn from.

“I’d say a bit of lingering hurt from inaccuracies over the years probably came out in my analysis, and I’d have to learn from that. Initially I actually felt liberated, but I don’t think that was the platform to do it,” he said.

“I might have vented and I don’t think it was the platform to vent from. That was the disappointing thing from my point of view and I have to learn from it. I was on there to analyse and I didn’t perform my job. That’s me being self-critical.”

Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star awards panel member for 2019, Derek McGrath highlights the importance of the pre-game ritual to minor players, encouraging fans to be a part of ‘The Championship Haircut’, which returns to Croke Park for the Electric Ireland GAA All-Ireland minor hurling final for the second year running. Fans can avail of a free cut or style between 11.30am-1pm on the Cusack Stand side #GAAThisIsMajor

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