THE initial campaign in the new provincial hurling format was fairly forgettable as far as Tipperary were concerned.
Their failure to win a game decreed that their 2018 Summer was done and dusted before the month of June had run its course.
One of the few redeeming features of a forgettable season was the form of Jason Forde in attack, the only Tipp player to get an All-Star nomination.
But what’s done is done and it’s a new beginning again in the Premier County with the return of Liam Sheedy as team boss.
And it goes without saying that Forde will be a crucial figure for them again, beginning on Sunday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh against Cork.
“Every year to try to push on, but when you don’t progress, it doesn’t mean much, because we were out to win some silverware, and that always outweighs anything you do personally,” said Forde.
“Lads didn’t really know what to do with themselves, being out so early last season.
“But you have to use that as fuel, motivation, for this year, to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“It’s after coming on top us very quickly, so just looking forward to getting going now. That’s what all the pre-season and training is about, to train for these big games.’’ Tipperary came to Cork during the national league season and dished out a severe trouncing to the home side.
However, Forde believes that result will have little or no bearing on Sunday’s encounter.
“The league was so up and down and teams are tailoring their training to peak at different teams.
“Look at Cork’s form in Munster, they are the form team. And we know that going down to Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
“In the old championship, it would nearly be the same 15 going out, every week, but this way, anyone could be playing, and it’s a change of mindset.
“It all feels like we’re starting new again, and last season is put to the back of the mind. We’re trying to learn from it, but trying to move on as well.’’ Now firmly established on the starting 15, he admits it took a bit of time to nail down that starting spot.
“It takes a while to make the breakthrough. Last year, I decided on some extra work, with a personal trainer for a few months, and maintained that, I was back with him again this year.
“ I suppose I have been knocking around a few years now, and I’m in the middle sort of cohort.
“Last year I’d a good run, played every game in the league, a good run in the Fitzgibbon too, so from a personal point of view it probably was my best year with Tipp but obviously I was disappointed with the way it finished.”
Sheedy has alternated between himself and Seamus Callanan where the free-taking duties are concerned.
“To be honest, that doesn’t enter our heads. It is at the stage now when you can’t even miss one free. But more is made of that than probably needs to be.
“ It’s whoever the manager decides to trust, we’ll be ready to do. We’ve a few more good strikers, Bubbles [O’Dwyer], so whoever we decide to go with when the time comes.”
Not surprisingly, Forde has nothing but full praise for Sheedy, who came back on board this season after stepping down in the aftermath of Tipperary’s 2010 All-Ireland success over Kilkenny, halting the Cats’ bid for five All-Ireland titles on the trot.
“Yes, it’s just his professional background, I think that transfers into players, how to get the most out of guys, and just really, really organised, with a very good backroom team around him as well.
“He’s brought in a bit of freshness as well, which was probably needed, and bringing in a lot of younger players brings some enthusiasm as well. So there’s a good buzz there at the moment.
“Eamon O’Shea has come back in the last while as well, added a few more layers to what we’re trying to do, so you’d be wise to listen to all of them.”