Saturday 22 October 2016

Liam Kearns: Tipp were "bordering on heroic" in second half

Published 21/08/2016 | 18:49

Tipperary manager Liam Kearns has said his team's second half performance, despite losing the All-Ireland semi-final against Mayo, was "bordering on heroic."

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The Premier County came from six points down at the interval to trail by just two at one stage before a somewhat fortunate build up to Conor O'Shea's late goal had them in retreat again.

But Kearns said he was even prouder of them now than he was three weeks ago when they took out Galway in a quarter-final.

Ultimately their dearth of resources caught up with them, he acknowledged.

"I thought they were outstanding. I said to them at half-time, ‘we’re not lying down here’, and no-one lay down. They went out and brought the game to them, as we have throughout this campaign.

Ultimately we didn’t get the break, we had two injuries and the depth in our squad probably told against us in the end."

Kearns felt the loss of centre-back Robbie Kiely to a black card after nine minutes was "harsh" and hurt them.

"That was very hard for us to take and a red card (Bill Maher) at the finish. The second Mayo goal was a killer, he (Evan Regan) was going for a point, slipped and it ended up at the feet of the player who pulled on it for a goal.

"We didn’t get the breaks but the players never gave up, they played to the end and played football the way it should be played. They put everything in, they’re totally committed and I couldn’t be more proud of it."

It was a huge loss (Robbie Kiely). We brought in Shane Leahy and he’s a bit inexperienced, it was his first time on that stage, it was tough going.

"Diarmuid O’Connor caused us problems at wing-forward and unfortunately we had to take Shane off. It took us until half-time to sort things out in the dressing-room but we did sort it out.

"We got back within two points and I was confident we’d take it to the wire. It wasn’t to be because we got a few more knocks and we probably can’t sustain those knocks.

"When Robbie got the black card we were going well, I thought we should have been more up, but when they got a run on us they caused problems, Andy Moran caused us problems inside and they got on top in the middle third. They dominated there, that’s where the damage was done."

Kearns believes Tipperary have been comfortable on the Croke Park stage in their last two visits and can "aspire" to being regulars in the future. 

"I'll let others judge if we can get back, but the  boys have been very comfortable out here, they haven’t left themselves down in Croke Park in the quarter or semi-final.

"Mayo have been in six semi-finals in a row, this is our first time here. My view is that Tipperary can aspire to come back to this level on a regular basis, providing we get things right, total commitment - there’s a lot of good players in Tipperary who could have been with us today but weren’t, so we need to get our set-up right back in the county.

"I’d hope this run will galvanise the players in the county, and the supporters, to get behind the football team. There’s no reason the county can’t compete in both - we’ve shown it this year, we’ve reached the football semi-final and the hurlers are in an All-Ireland final. So why not?"

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