Former All Ireland winning captain with Tipperary Eoin Kelly remains adamant that Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher will return to inter-county action following his recovery from a cruciate ligament injury.
Tipperary GAA confirmed on Tuesday that the 29-year-old had ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament during Sunday’s win over Limerick in Semple Stadium and will be sidelined for the rest of the season.
However, manager Liam Sheedy insisted that Maher would remain as a part of the group regardless of the injury.
Kelly, a GAA Ambassador for Paddy Power, believes keeping ‘Bonner’ within the squad is a smart move by Sheedy.
“The form Bonner Maher was showing this year was brilliant, and he connects with the Tipperary team and the Tipperary supporters. To see any player stretchered off, is very worrying.
“We were all hoping it wasn’t going to be dreaded cruciate ligament injury, but unfortunately it turns out he has done his ACL. It’s a six to nine-month injury whatever way you look at it. Having had the injury myself, I know how tough it is to come back from.
“It’s great to see that Liam Sheedy intends to keep him around the panel. It goes back to the last time he was in charge, he puts a big emphasis on making sure an injured guy is still a strong member of the squad.
“He’ll certainly use Bonner in some capacity this year, Sheedy did that with James Woodlock when I was under him. Woodlock got an unmerciful injury in the county final, breaking his leg but Sheedy did not cast him aside. He was kept right in among the squad and that’s what he will do with Bonner Maher now.”
The Lorrha Dorrha club man had returned to top form this season, capping off a fine display against Clare with 1-02.
While Kelly admits that his work ethic will be hard to replace, he believes that Dan McCormack and Niall O’Meara will battle it out to fill Maher’s vacant position in the half-forward line.
O’Meara hasn’t featured for the Premier County since suffering a hamstring injury during their 2-28 to 1-24 win over Cork in the first round of the Munster Championship.
“Bonner was one of the guys in that Tipperary team that lead the way in work ethic and the rest of the side have now come up to that standard. I’m sure the player that will fill Bonner’s boots will have to match what he does because that’s what’s required at this level. Niall O’Meara and Dan McCormack have that robust edge to them too.
“Sometimes, someone’s misfortune can lead to someone else’s fortune. Good managers – and Liam Sheedy fits that bill – are always prepared for this scenario.
“Bonner is the kind of guy who’ll fight hard to come back from injury, he fits into that same category as Seamus Callanan and Brendan Maher. He has the same character as those guys. There’s no doubt in my mind that he will back in the Tipperary jersey because that’s his personality.”
Meanwhile, the county also confirmed that corner-back, Cathal Barrett suffered a mild hamstring tear during the four-point win over the All Ireland champions at the weekend and his progress will be monitored.
“This evening’s scan for Cathal Barrett has confirmed a mild hamstring tear. The injury will be worked on by the Tipp SH medical team and management will monitor his progress over the next 10 days.”