'We won't get carried away'
Maher insists Premier not taking depleted Dubs for granted
IT'S a quirk of tradition. In Dublin, they call it hype. In Tipperary, it's merely the reinstatement of old ways.
A county with the hurling history of Tipp goes 10 years without tasting All-Ireland success but once last year's triumph was complete, the local presumption is that the decade-long famine is over forever and replaced by an annual banquet of silverware.
Expectation levels in the Premier County have, it must be said, been taken to new extremes in the wake of last September.
Partly, that's because after a year of fulfilling the role of honourable losers to the greatest team of all time, they firmly overtook Brian Cody's history-chasing Cats in last season's final.
And partly, the local assumption of renewed greatness in Tipperary is because, just three days after that victory, the under 21s -- containing a third of the team which had started the previous Sunday -- gave one of the great performances of that grade in recent years to annihilate a pretty decent Galway team.
One of those -- Pádraic Maher -- is fully aware that loose talk around the county can prove problematic if it is allowed to seep into the psyche of those entrusted with retaining Liam MacCarthy.
"Some people are getting carried away around the county over all the goals that went in against Waterford," Maher admits. "In fairness you just have to block that out as a player at this stage and we know we have bigger steps ahead. Let the fans get carried away with the Munster final result, we'll concentrate on the All-Ireland semi-final.
"People come up to you talking about the Munster final and that but you just have to block it out. We're probably used to it at this stage. You kind of just talk away with them but you know deep down that you have other things on your mind."
Still, the tickets were barely printed for the semi-finals when the whole hurling world began penning their previews for the 'dream All-Ireland final' and that's both understandable and unavoidable.
After a trio of September turkey-shoots in 2006, '07 and '08, Kilkenny and Tipp combined to give us two gripping finals in the past two years.
The Cats were up against a team whose last trick was to concede seven goals against Tipperary in the Munster final.
On Sunday, Tipp meet this year's breakthrough team; league champions, Dublin. Or at least a sort of Dublin team anyway, given the debilitating plague of injuries which has afflicted them this season.
"People are expecting us to get to the final," Maher acknowledges, "but we're under no illusions what Dublin are capable of. I guarantee you if you ask all the Dublin players and maybe even a few supporters, they know deep down that they are capable of beating us.
"And we know that they're well capable of doing stuff like that after winning the league final.
"Looking at the football," he adds, in relation to Cork's shock championship exit to Mayo two Sundays back. "No one is safe really. There is no top team any more because anybody is capable of beating anybody and that was proven in the football but it's the same with the hurling.
"We're confident enough but the football is after wakening us up even more. No harm to watch it even to show that something like that can happen. You can't take for granted what happened before," Maher insists, "and just concentrate on what's going to happen in the future."