Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher will still have a role for Tipperary this year, despite sustaining a season-ending cruciate injury, according to Eoin Kelly.
Kelly, who has done some work with the county’s free-takers this year, says manager Liam Sheedy will keep Maher close to the panel, as he did with James Woodlock when Tipperary won the 2010 All-Ireland.
Woodlock broke his right leg in four places the previous October in an accidental collision during the 2009 Tipperary SHC final.
“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,” Kelly told Paddy Power News.
“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.
“But, 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.
“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.
Kelly says that Tipperary need to repeat their victory over Limerick in the Munster final to avoid a potentially dangerous quarter-final against Dublin and to allow players carrying hamstring injuries, like Cathal Barrett and Niall O’Meara, time to recuperate fully.
“I don’t care what you say, the less games you play the better chance you have of winning an All-Ireland. You’ll probably have Dublin waiting for you.
“They’ve already beaten Tipperary and Galway in League and Championship. That’s a dangerous game, if you ended up with it.
“If they go on to be Munster champions, you get an extra break. That gives hamstrings and any strains they’re going to get time to heal too.
“The intensity and the physicality in the Munster final will be massive and Tipperary are going to have to bring that to get a victory against in Limerick. So, you might need that extra rest too.”
However, he believes achieving a win in Limerick will be a tough task.
“The Munster Final and is set up nicely for Limerick now with them playing at home at the LIT Gaelic Grounds. It’s going to take a massive performance from Tipperary to overturn them there.
“Having played against Limerick there in huge games, I know it’s a very, very hard place to come out of it with victory. It’s possible, of course, but it’s a huge ask.”