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McGrath Relishing Wexford Challenge Despite Under Par Performance

Noel McGrath Tipperary

Listening to Noel McGrath following Tipperary’s win in the All Ireland quarter-final on Sunday, it’s clear that their early championship exit in 2018 hurt the team profusely. 

While it was far from an inspired performance against Laois, the Loughmore-Castleiney man was beaming that Tipperary were back in an All Ireland semi-final, even though Tipperary only had to endure a one-year absence from the final four.

“We’re back in an All Ireland semi-final. We haven’t been here in two years and we’ve got a win in Croke Park. Any day you come to Dublin and win is a good day.

“There was some good things that happened out on the field there today, there’s some things we need to work on and that’s the joy of sport, we get another day to go at it and try again.

“Getting to play in Croke Park and express yourself is the reason we play hurling, it’s the reason you train and we’ll be looking forward to coming again.”

Liam Sheedy’s men will have plenty to work on despite the 10-point win as it was the O’Moore County who dominated for much of the early stages while Tipperary were rescued by a Jason Forde penalty and a goal from Seamus Callanan that was sublimely set up by McGrath.

Mark Kavanagh pointed 11 frees for Laois while they stayed battling till the end despite being reduced to 14-men early in the second half when Aaron Dunphy saw red for an off-the-ball strike on Padraic Maher.

Despite their historic win over Dublin in the preliminary quarter-final, McGrath maintains that some still underestimated the ability of Laois and that their strong performance against the Premier County was far from a surprise.

“I don’t know if people thought it was going to be a cakewalk for Tipp here today. That’s not how hurling works, there’s 15 against 15. They’re proud players like we’re proud players, they’re going to fight on their back, they’re going to do the best they can.

“It’s an All Ireland quarter-final, you have to expect a good battle and that’s what we got. You want to be tested, you want to be playing against teams who are going to put it up to you because that’s where you find out about yourself. We’ll learn a lot from today and we’ll work on things that we need to improve on.

“Everywhere you go there’s people who want to talk about the match, no matter who you’re playing, so you’re going to be hearing this, that and the other. You have to be experienced enough to understand that you prepare yourself right no matter who you’re playing.

“I know a good few of the players from Laois, they’re not too far over the border, especially in Rathdowney. They’re all proud hurling men, they come from good hurling clubs, good hurling parishes and they’re all well able to play. There was never going to be anything easy against them.”

Tipperary now find themselves with the formidable task of facing Leinster champions Wexford in the penultimate round of the All Ireland series and while McGrath is under no illusions as to the size of the task ahead of them, he is relishing the chance to return to Croke Park once more for another knock-out game.

“Coming to Croke Park and playing in big games, All Ireland semi-finals, it’s why I train, it’s why I’ve wanted to play for Tipp since I was young. What better occasion than to come up here for an All Ireland semi-final?

“We haven’t been in an All Ireland semi-final since 2017 and opportunities don’t come around easily, you don’t get anything in this game easy. We’re coming up against a team that are after winning a Leinster final and an unbelievable Leinster Championship so they’re coming here in high spirits.

“What more do you want than a challenge like that? Both teams are going to be looking forward to it and the big crowds mean the occasions are getting bigger and that’s what you want.”

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Author: Marisa Kennedy

Marisa is a Digital Journalist with Pundit Arena. You can contact her at or on Twitter