By Noel Dundon
Tipperary minor football Captain Liam McGrath has an experienced head on those young shoulders of his.
Having confessed that he “didn’t get too stressed” about the Leaving Cert he has just completed and just “took it all in my stride”, the Loughmore Castleiney dual star has welcomed the chance to focus on the Munster minor football Final on Sunday next and put all the books well and truly behind him.
Liam has played in more big games that most lads of his age and his laidback demeanour ensures that he is well able to play it cool on the field of play, as well as off it. That’s how it was against Kerry - at half time in the semi-final, Liam certainly didn’t envisage leading Tipp out in the Munster Final six weeks later.
“It was some win - you wouldn’t have thought it at half time. We just kept at it and hearing the crowd getting behind us was something else. We didn’t panic at all we just took the points and waited for the goals to come. It was special and there was some craic after the final whistle,” he says.
Of course, coming from a parish like Loughmore Castleiney, Liam was a shoe in to be a footballer. His Dad Tom, his uncles and cousins ( including 2010 Young Hurler of the Year Noel) all played the big ball with great distinction and hold senior county medals in both hurling and football. It is something Liam is very much aware of and he confesses to becoming engaged with the conversations in his grandparents home, usually around Christmas time, when the clan gather to pay their respects. Usually, the conversation turns to all things GAA and often the old tapes and dvd’s are produced to recall the good old days.
With GAA DNA ingrained in his every fibre, Liam is man who eats and sleeps football and hurling. But, for a young guy with a world of action ahead of him, he is also very conscious of the role Loughmore Castleiney has played in his development so far. Mention how proud the late Sean Mockler would be to see a McGrath from Loughmore leading out Tipperary in the Munster minor football final and he adds in the likes of Pat Cullen and Joe Grady - stalwarts of the club and men who have given so much to club and county. Yes, Liam McGrath’s feet are very firmly placed on the ground.
He is looking forward to Killarney on Sunday - it will be another huge day out for all the family. He visited there recently with the team and his reaction, “Ah sure it’s just like any other field really. It is big enough but not as big as Semple Stadium. We like a bit of space in the forward line because it will let us run at the backs and gives us plenty of chances to get on the ball. That’s what we like and we hope to be able to do that on Sunday.”
Liam deems it an honour to lead out Tipp but knows that if they “go through the motions” like they did against Kerry in the first round, it will be curtains.
“Cork will be totally different to Kerry - a different type of challenge for us. But sure, that’s the way things are and we look forward to all these challenges. I suppose it’s why we play the games .”