The words success and Padraic Maher have been interchangeable for the past number of years.
You name it, the Thurles Sarsfields player has won virtually every honour in the game, despite being only 22 with a long career still stretching ahead of him.
He has picked up honours from All-Ireland Minor Hurling medals in 2006 and ‘07 to an All Star two years ago, and his vast collection was further boosted last month by a second Munster Senior medal.
As he counts down the days towards his third All-Ireland Semi-Final, and Tipp’s fourth in-a-row, the team’s seven-goals destruction of Waterford in the provincial final is still a hot topic around the county and he admits it’s hard to block out thoughts of that match when he tours summer camps and people want to talk about it.
He’s conscious of the fact that some people were very excited about the number of goals they scored.
“But deep down you know you have other things on your mind and the All-Ireland semi-final is what we’re concentrating on. The Munster Final and the Munster Championship is finished and will be no good to us at the end of the year if we don’t go on and do something bigger”, he says.
“As a player you just have to block that out and we’ve bigger steps ahead. Let the fans get carried away (with the Munster Final result), we’ll concentrate on the All-Ireland semi-final.”
Padraic promises that the All-Ireland champions won’t relinquish what they achieved last year too easily and he says that the team is “confident enough” approaching Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final, although they’re under no illusions about the scale of the challenge.
“If you ask any Dublin player they know deep down that they’re capable of beating us. We’ll have to perform nearly at our best to get over them”.
He rates Anthony Daly’s team highly - “they’re so physically fit and very tenacious and their hurling has improved no end. They’re one of the top three or four teams in the country and are capable of beating anyone on their day”.
This year they had made the breakthrough by winning the National League. Although they didn’t perform as well as they would have wished when they lost to Kilkenny in the Leinster Final they had bounced back well against Limerick in the All-Ireland quarter-final, despite being without a few players.
“They now have a full inter-county panel. We’ll have to be on our toes because Dublin will throw everything at us, and we’ll have to do the same to them”.
He described Dublin’s style as “in your face. It’s like Kilkenny’s in a way. They’ll stand up 50-50 and see who comes out on top. It’s real championship-style hurling”.
Padraic says the injured Conal Keaney would be “a massive loss” but they had a full panel of players to bring into the action. In that respect they were similar to Tipperary, who also have subs who could make a difference.
He said that Cork’s defeat by Mayo in the football showed that “nobody is safe” in the championship, and that’s another reason why Tipp will be on their guard come Sunday.
He describes Ryan O’Dwyer as “a changed player” this season – “his hurling has improved and the freedom in his play is unreal”. He considered Ryan unlucky to be sent off in Leinster semi-final against Galway but added he had since made up for that.
Padraic regards all the Dublin forwards as top-class players - “they’re a different outfit than what they were a couple of years ago and everybody knows that”.
Despite all his success, Padraic Maher shows no signs of resting on his laurels.
For the record, he won All-Ireland Minor Hurling medals as a full-back in 2006 and 2007. He also won a Munster Minor Hurling medal in 2007, Munster Under 21 Hurling medals in 2008 and 2010 (as captain) and two Munster Senior Hurling medals, in 2009 and 2011.
Last year he won an All-Ireland Senior Hurling medal playing at left half-back in the final against Kilkenny. Padraic captained Tipperary to Munster and All-Ireland Under 21 honours in 2010, playing at centre-back in the Munster Final and at full-back in the All-Ireland Final. He was nominated for All-Star awards in 2009 and 2010, winning an award at full-back in 2009.
With Durlas Og he won two County Under 16 A Hurling medals, in 2004 and 2005. With Sarsfields he has won two County Minor A Hurling medals (2006 and 2007), two County Minor A Football medals (2005 and 2006), two County Under 21 A Hurling medals (2008 and 2009) and a first County Senior Hurling medal in 2009, when he won the man of the match award as Sarsfields beat Drom/Inch in the final.
He won his second County Senior Hurling medal last year, when Sarsfields beat Clonoulty/Rossmore in the final.