By Brian McDonnell at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Cork
DESPITE Kilkenny’s highly-impressive 2-21 to 0-9 win over Dublin on Saturday evening Lar Corbett insists that contenders like Tipperary must “believe” that the defending All-Ireland champions can be beaten.
“Well, we have to believe. We have to believe. We have to believe,” Lar Corbett told the Tipperary Star before heralding his playing colleagues who have now come through two severe tests of character against Limerick and Cork.
“They were two great tests because we were under pressure there again today and against Limerick. I think that builds character,” Lar Corbett explained.
“That’s one thing that the team has. We have showed that over the last number of years that we have character. Slowly, but surely that is now coming out of us. We really believe that there is a good panel of players there. There are lads to come off the bench and there are lads there to start. So, now we’re looking forward to the Munster final.
“We can talk about it in training and we can talk about it in the dressing room and ask are we good enough, but you have to prove it on the field.
“I think the boys’ character came out there today. They proved it on the field down in Cork against Cork and going down to 14 men. That just goes to show the character of the team. It’s nice to be part of something like that.”
Manager Declan Ryan opted to introduce the Thurles Sarsfields man in the 34th minute in place of Templederry’s Gearóid Ryan. Corbett’s introduction was greeted by a huge roar from the Premier faithful and yet Lar knows that no one is guaranteed a place on this Tipperary team.
“There is some serious competition for places there now and that’s exactly where we want to be,” Lar Corbett said.
“I came down on the bus with everyone there today and whenever you are called upon you’re called upon.
“So, it doesn’t make a difference. You just have to be ready from the start the same as everyone else. We’re delighted that lads came off the bench there today, we’re looking forward to getting back into training on Tuesday night and fight for the 15 places in the Munster final. That’s the most important thing.”
A Noel McGrath goal in the 46th minute forced Tipperary into a 1-15 to 0-16 - Patrick Maher won a clearance and passed to John O’Brien.
O’Brien then found Corbett who must have considered going for goal himself.
Corbett was brilliantly unselfish however. The Thurles man jinked right and sucked in three Cork defenders before finding Noel McGrath unmarked to his left. And, the Loughmore-Castleiney man made no mistake.
“The best man at the moment to take the right option is Noel McGrath,” Lar Corbett explained.
“And, I think the right option was to give it to Noel. That’s the most important thing. Whatever percentage chance I had of scoring Noel had a higher percentage chance of scoring. We saw that yesterday with Kilkenny against Dublin.
“The man in the best position gets the ball and that’s really what we are trying to strive towards.
“We needed a goal. Noel got a goal in the second half there and that kind of settled the team. That was important, just to get the goal. If you look at it through the game the goal was dividing both teams right until the end.”
Lar Corbett has happy memories of facing Waterford in the Munster final.
Indeed, 12 months ago the 2010 Hurler of the Year fired four goals and four points from play against the Déise. But, Larry is taking nothing for granted: “we came out of here last year after the Munster final and said that there was a big hole for us to fall into and get carried away with ourselves.
“We are looking forward to it, but we can’t get complacent. It’s back down to it again with pressure for places on Tuesday and Thursday night. No one can get complacent because there is someone on your back waiting for your spot.”