Sport Gaelic Football

Tuesday 25 July 2017

Tipp boss Evans expecting to see Sam back home

Kieran McCarthy

IT will certainly be an interesting week in the Evans household.

With the countdown to Sunday's Munster SFC opener between John's Tipperary charges and his native Kerry well under way, the Killorglin man is something of an outsider in his own home.

With his entire family dusting off their Kerry jerseys for the Killarney clash, Evans will be busy ironing his Tipperary bainisteoir polo-shirt and plotting the Kingdom's downfall.

But it's a situation that he is well used to, having also had a crack at Kerry in last season's Munster championship, only to fall well short, losing 2-18 to 2-6.

And Evans doesn't envisage an easier time of it this year, especially as he is tipping Kerry to reclaim the Sam Maguire trophy this year.

"I don't buy into that theory (that Kerry are a team on the way down). No. In fact they are my tip for this year to win the All-Ireland," he said.

"There is a cutting edge to them. While Cork certainly have an edge also, I definitely think Kerry have an edge on them.

"Through one thing or another, the gods didn't go with them last year and they certainly feel that they owe this one to themselves and to everyone else. I think Kerry are coming in a lot fresher this year."

With that in mind, it seems certain that the Premier County will endure a long afternoon in Killarney against a wounded team that has a lot to prove this season after last year's quarter-final exit. Evans knows it will be tough.

"The draw hasn't favoured us, there is no doubt about that. Getting Kerry two years in a row -- if I was in the lotto I wouldn't be buying a ticket. That's life. That's sport. Maybe we will learn out of it," said the former Laune Rangers boss.

Now in his fourth year at the helm, Evans has overseen dramatic progress at all levels of football in Tipperary. But defeat against Kerry will not be a disaster, as different counties have different expectations.

For Tipperary, improvement on last year's game at Semple Stadium, where they competed gamely for 57 minutes before being over-run, would be a success of sorts.

Progress

"Success in the championship would be to progress further and do a lot better than we did last season," Evans said.

"You could be talking about Dublin at Croke Park last year and meeting Kerry two years in a row but what do you want to do -- take out the handkerchief and start crying? No, we won't. We are a developing team. This is part of our development.

"I would certainly like to be looking at this Tipperary team next year having gone through a good championship and having won two or three rounds of the qualifiers. This is a young team that is playing a lot of the best, and that should stand to them."

Tipp have injury concerns over Seamus Grogan (ankle), Peter Acheson (hamstring), Ciarán McGrath (ankle), Ciarán McDonald (hamstring) and Robbie Kiely.

Irish Independent

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