Former Tipperary selector John Madden recalls management meeting with Jason Forde ahead of 2018 season, and leadership of 40-goal Seamus Callanan.
Former Tipperary selector John Madden believes that Jason Forde is “practically unmarkable at the moment”.
The Silvermines sharpshooter injured his hamstring in the Munster SHC draw away to Cork but returned last weekend to hit 2-11 (0-4 frees, 0-3 65s) in the win over Offaly.
Forde made his debut for Tipp in the 2013 league and was due to make his championship bow that summer against Limerick until a stomach bug forced his withdrawal.
He made his big debut in the next outing which was that titanic qualifier loss to Kilkenny at Nowlan Park.
The talent of Forde has never been in question and though he has won two All-Irelands, he is yet to win an All Star.
Back in late 2017, then Tipperary manager Michael Ryan and his management team — including Madden — had a summit meeting with the ‘Mines man about where his career was heading.
“Jason Forde is a phenomenal talent and everybody, not just in Tipperary, recognises that,” says Madden on Tippcast.
“What I really love about Jason Forde at the minute is that he has really stepped up as a leader.
“Every year, leaders need to come on board and you have Seamus Callanan and Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher and they’re still there and are leaders in their own right, but these other fellas have to be the key men to drive this force.
“At that time, I suppose Jason Forde had a lot of hurling done and I suppose he wasn’t, lookit, he wasn’t fully nailing down a staring position and, with the talent that he had, it should have been automatic.
“Jason had to bring something new to the table because he had all the skillset.
“What did we say to him that time? It was really put back in his own court that he needed to go away and do something different.
“A couple of months later when we were assessing players, Jason Forde had come on as regards strength and conditioning by leaps and bounds, turned himself inside out, and that took hard work on his own.
“He took what we said to him on the chin that day, and that following year he was close to Hurler of the Year.
“One thing, when we had our chat that time, I remember saying to the lads that he made that phenomenal change, and I remember saying we need to give him a leadership role.
“To put him back in where he always played his best hurling, give him the frees, give him rope to do stuff, and stand off him a little bit and let him go.
“See how it goes because he has the tools. He’s gone on leaps and bounds and is a fantastic player and is going to be a huge part of this Tipperary team this weekend, and every weekend.
“The Galway lads will have to be watching him because if he gets ball even half-right, he’s practically unmarkable at the moment.”
Seamus Callanan bagged his 40 ever championship goal — all from play — in the 7-38 to 3-18 win over the Faithful last weekend, which is a record no modern player comes anywhere close to.
Madden recalls the influence that the Drom-Inch man had with other players during his tenure with the Premier set-up.
“Seamus Callanan is meticulous in the way he prepares,” the Lorrha native says of the 34-year-old. “He’s a great fella for the younger lads to look up to.
“The biggest thing he brings to every game is that he loves playing, there’s a want there to play the whole time.
“He’s not going around the dressing room laughing there the whole time and thinking ‘I’m Seamus Callanan, I’ve scored all these goals, and I’m above everybody else’.
“He’s not, he’s going around pulling lads’ jerseys, giving lads thumps in the chest, he knows he would never have scored them goals unless he had players all around the field, and he’s a team player who loves Tipperary.
“Other lad might have stepped down at this stage, he’s gone through lots of injuries, lots of different things, but there’s a phenomenal passion there and he has a good way about him.
“He’ll bring younger players forward and his vision on the field as well.
“He has so many different qualities outside of scoring goals but, as a leader in the dressing room, every player would look up at him for sure.”