McGrath never as proud of a Tipp group
By Shane Brophy
Disappointment was etched on the face of Noel McGrath after Tipp fell to a late defeat to Limerick on Sunday.
"It's incredibly disappointing to be honest,” he began.
“We gave ourselves a shout coming down here today. We know the day against Clare wasn't good enough, we knew we needed to bring something today.
“To be in the position that we were, it's encouraging in one way but it's seriously disappointing that we didn't finish it out because we had chances there to go three, four, five ahead at times and it's hard to put into words.
“Any day you put on a Tipp jersey, you want to perform, and you want to win and unfortunately today we came up short.”
McGrath admitted the team were being questioned after the Clare match and despite the defeat, they answered some critics with their performance.
“We brought serious intensity and hurling and passion, everything you need for Munster championship hurling in the first half,” McGrath added.
“And even coming into the second half, we know last year they hit us right after half time in the Munster final, but we held our own for a long part of that second half and we kept in front ticking on scores and ticking on scores.
“Unfortunately, near the end we just got caught with a couple of scores that they got that we probably maybe could have got at the other end to keep ticking on the points and that's why they're as good as they are, they're All-Ireland champions and they put you away when they get the chances.
“There was a massive crowd here from Limerick and the roars were driving them on at the end. To be fair to the Tipp players and all the panel, I'm proud to be part of the group, I'm proud of every player and delighted to be part of it with the management team and the players because everyone gives what they have.
“There's an honesty there among the players and the management that maybe we weren't given credit for over the last couple of weeks and we'll stay fighting. We'll give this another rattle over the next two weeks again, any day you get to put on a Tipp jersey, whether you go training or playing a match, you give everything you have and I think lads today poured everything they had out there.
“Maybe there were a few little things that we can learn going forward, as regards being a bit more clinical, execution, things like that that put those games away when you're in the driving seat.
“Ten minutes to go coming down the straight we were in a position to win that game, unfortunately we just didn't get there but they're the things you learn and unfortunately in sport it's a cruel game when you don't take your chances.”
Tipperary will find out next Sunday whether the final game against Cork has something riding on it in terms of still having a chance of making the knockout stages but regardless, Noel McGrath will be preparing at normal for a knockout championship game.
“We need to keep that going over the next few weeks,” he added.
“It's still Munster championship, who knows what's going to happen next weekend? That's the nature of sport, this thing isn't fully finished yet for Tipp, so we'll get back on the training field this week, we'll get the bodies right and we'll go again. Whatever happens, we'll show up against Cork and we'll put our body and soul into it again and that's all we can do and learn as much as we can from today.”
Throughout his fourteen year inter-county career, Noel McGrath has never gone through a sticky patch in terms of results with Tipp having lost five championship games in a row going back to last year.
It is frustrating but how Tipp respond will determine how quick or otherwise the turnaround will happen.
“We haven't got the results over the last few weeks but there was probably character questioned of the Tipperary group between management and players over the last couple of weeks,” McGrath added.
“That would probably hurt because there are lads there that are honest as I have ever come across in a Tipperary jersey and I back them fellas every day of the week from 1 to 33 on this panel.
“The results aren't going our way but it's not from the lack of effort, the lack of want, the lack of drive to succeed in training. Today showed that there is something there and hopefully the Tipp public will get behind us over the next few weeks again and come out and support us and drive us on because that helps as well.
“At the end of the day, you go out on the field, and you have nothing only the lads beside you and I'm never as proud to be part of a Tipperary group and I will be over the next few weeks and as long as we're still going for this year.”