McGeever cautious as 'Boden await
Clonmel Commercials manager still confident his underdogs have what it takes
Published 13/02/2016 | 02:30
Charlie McGeever felt that his Tipperary minor footballers were "bang on" when he met them on the Friday night before September's All-Ireland final against Kerry.
The mood seemed good, but the Kingdom dished out a 20-point hammering on the Sunday.
It's one of the reasons why McGeever is adopting a cautious approach ahead of today's AIB All-Ireland senior club football semi-final against Ballyboden St Enda's.
As manager of Tipperary and Munster champions Clonmel Commercials, this is uncharted territory. No team from the Premier County had tasted senior provincial silverware in the competition until Commercials stunned Nemo Rangers before Christmas.
McGeever describes the men from Dublin as a "strong, physical, fast-moving team, littered with experience and youth".
But from a Commercials point of view, the work has been done.
There are no injury worries to report and McGeever feels the team is ready to perform at O'Moore Park.
But he warned: "You can be more sure that you're not going to perform. . . you know when it's wrong but it's hard to know when it's right.
"For the All-Ireland minor final, I thought on the Friday night we were bang on. On the day of the final, Kerry played exceptionally well but that wasn't us.
"We didn't turn up regardless of the Kerry performance - that's one that did shock the system and I hope we don't get a repeat of that.
"But we did a number of things since Christmas to freshen things up - and we hope to see the fruits of that.
"We changed our arrangements around training and we have to thank (secretary) Tim Floyd and the county board for giving us the option of training at Dr Morris Park in midweek.
"Those sessions were priceless, at a proper location with proper lighting.
"It's also a more central position for our travellers from Cork, Limerick and Dublin.
"Clonmel was flooded in early January, that was one factor, and I thought we needed a kick on in terms of coaching and developing team play."
And so McGeever enlisted the services of close friend and former Limerick and Tipperary coach Michael McGeehin, director of Coaching Ireland, since Christmas.
McGeever explained: "Michael trained the Tipp seniors and there was a distinct improvement in their forward play. Michael was happy to come in and has pushed us on another level.
"Quite a few of the players know him from the Tipp set-up and we've all learned from him, watching the sessions."
McGeever also regards Ballyboden as "favourites to win the competition outright", pointing to their county final victory over St Vincent's and their win over Portlaoise in the Leinster showpiece.
The Portlaoise game, in McGeever's eyes, was a "very high-spec club match" but he believes Commercials can be right in the mix if they get their match-ups right around the field and perform to optimum levels.
The Donegal native noted: "Ballyboden are a bit further down the road than we are in terms of experience and age profile, and most of them have played underage for Dublin.
"There's a mixture of hurlers and footballers, a lot of dual players, no more than ourselves.
"We're similar in that way but this is a step-up, a massive step-up from anything we've played so far.
"We're into the last four and there are no easy touches but in as much as we've prepared properly, we just want to measure ourselves up against a team regarded as favourites to win outright.
"If we get our match-ups right and perform to our best, we're in with a shout. But step off that mark and we're gone. No disrespect to the teams gone before, but knowing the way (Ballyboden manager) Andy McEntee works, he'll have any crumb of info he can get on us.
"I don't expect that we'll surprise them in any way."