Saturday 24 September 2016

Kearns savours sweet win after rocky build-up

Jackie Cahill

Published 13/06/2016 | 02:30

Tipperary manager Liam Kearns celebrates victory. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Tipperary manager Liam Kearns celebrates victory. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Tipperary manager Liam Kearns admitted that yesterday's Munster SFC semi-final victory over Cork is "right up there" with anything that he's achieved previously in management.

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During his time in charge of Limerick, Kerry native Kearns went desperately close to provincial glory with the Shannonsiders.

He also guided Laois for a spell and linked up with John Evans in Roscommon last year, as they gained promotion from Division 2 and claimed Croke Park silverware.

But Kearns took a punt on Tipperary following Peter Creedon's departure and found many obstacles placed in his path as player defections and injuries hit the squad.

However, they bounced back in style yesterday with a famous and fully-deserved victory about which the vanquished Cork team could have few complaints.

"I'd say, in the circumstances, we took so many blows during the course of this year that this achievement would rank up there with any achievement in managerial terms," said Kearns. "It's been a tough year management wise.

"If we got hammered out there today, you'd be asking questions about where you're going from there. It has to be right up there."

Gracious Cork boss Peadar Healy reflected: "Give great credit to Tipperary, we certainly didn't underestimate them coming up here.

"We conceded too much - we were trying to rectify that all year.

"If you were told you'd score 2-16 today you'd hope to win [but] there were too many turnovers in the first half, nine wides and it took too much out of us to get back after drawing level."

There was a defiant tone from Kearns at full-time as he declared that "the bandwagon is rolling" as Tipp gear up for Kerry on July 3.

It was a remarkable victory for Tipp who lined out without dual stars Seamus Kennedy and Steven O'Brien, while young guns Jason Lonergan, Liam Casey and Kevin Fahey opted to spend the summer months in the US.

Kearns suspects a few players may wish they were still involved now following this landmark success.

He said: "I hope they do and I hope they will come back.

"This bandwagon is rolling. I hope that fellas will come back. There are top-class players out there, I know there are, and we'll take them all back.

"We're not going to turn any player away. We'll be quite happy to have all our best players."

It proved to be a day of double celebration for Kearns as he revealed last night that his daughter also gave birth to a baby girl yesterday.

Cork paid the price for individual errors as poor kick-outs led to Tipp's first and third goals. But a deflated Healy insisted: "I'm not going to say anything about any of my players - we have a lot of work to do and we'll have to look forward to the qualifiers and that's it."

Irish Independent

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