Sunday 20 August 2017

Fox wary of Armagh's sense of grievance against Tipperary

‘They have plenty of motivation to win the game, we stole promotion from them,’ Tipp captain Brian Fox says about their qualifier opponents Armagh. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
‘They have plenty of motivation to win the game, we stole promotion from them,’ Tipp captain Brian Fox says about their qualifier opponents Armagh. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Jackie Cahill

Tipperary captain Brian Fox has warned that opponents Armagh will bring a huge sense of grievance with them to Thurles for this evening's All-Ireland SFC round 3B qualifier.

Back in early April, Michael Quinlivan's stoppage-time goal secured victory for visitors Tipp in a Division 3 promotion shoot-out at the Athletic Grounds.

There was fair needle in that game, on and off the pitch, as members of Tipp's video analysis team were asked to move from their original vantage point by Armagh representatives.

And Fox knows that the Orchard men won't need much extra motivation as they aim to pull off a revenge mission.

"Of course, in one respect it's all them," he said. "They have plenty of motivation to win the game, we stole promotion from them, they felt aggrieved about that, and they'll want to rectify those wrongs.

"We played them in a challenge match later in the year, before we played Cork, and they beat us.

"They were very competitive and made a big step up from what they'd been doing in the League.

"Their movement off the ball and fitness were exceptional and we know we're up against it.

"Armagh will bring a good crowd, they had huge support for their match against Westmeath in Mullingar and we're hoping to have a big crowd to support us.

"We need to keep the momentum going, and not be outnumbered by Armagh supporters."

Tipp, last year's beaten All-Ireland semi-finalists, produced more heroics last weekend to come from six points down against Cavan at Kingspan Breffni before pulling Kieran McGeeney's men from the qualifier bowl on Monday morning.

"They're a tough, physical team with plenty of good footballers. They probably should have beaten us on the last day of the League," said Fox.

Tipp's victory over Cavan last weekend revived memories of last year's stunning run to the last four of the All-Ireland series.

But Fox rejects any suggestion that it was bigger than anything achieved in 2016, despite coming into the Cavan game with a crippling injury list and carrying the disappointment of a narrow Munster semi-final loss to Cork.

"I kind of disagree," he said." It was a big deal to win but it wasn't as big a deal as beating Cork for the first time in 72 years last summer, or getting past Derry and Galway.

"Cavan were a Division 1 side this year but we know what we're capable of.

"It was a Round 2 qualifier, us on the back of a loss and them on the back of a loss, and we knew that if we could play well, we'd beat them. We played for half an hour but our backs were against the wall at half-time.

"We knew that if we continued playing the way we were, we were going out of the championship.

"So, there was no jumping around the place, lads were calm and composed, focusing on what we could change and do better. And those changes seemed to work."

All-Star Michael Quinlivan came off the bench to play a big part, while Philip Austin marked his return from a lengthy injury lay-off to make a big second-half impact.

Unbelieveable

Fox said: "Philly is an unbelievable talent. Unfortunately, we haven't had him for so long.

"He played against Louth in the second last game in the League but he's one of the big leaders on our team.

"He's very experienced and a brilliant forward, he made a big impact but we needed that composure because we hadn't shown it in the first half.

"Everybody knows about Mikey. He's a threat even on one leg. As much as he contributed, it was also a big motivation for the rest of us, to see him coming onto the pitch.

"It did give everyone a lift. It's all about the team we have and lads willing to play through the pain barrier for each other.

"Nobody would have said a bad word about Mikey if he didn't play - but he wanted to play."

For Tipp, the return to Kingspan Breffni revived good memories of the qualifier victory over Derry at the same venue last summer, a win that took them to Croke Park.

But Fox insisted: "To me, it was just another venue.

"In the aftermath of the game, we were saying that it was definitely nice to come up there and knowing that we've won two matches, and that we can play up there. The pitch suits us but before the game, it didn't come into my mind at all."

Irish Independent

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