Tipperary underdogs aim to keep double dream alive
Published 20/08/2016 | 02:30
It's the fairytale story of this year's Championships and now Tipperary's footballers are determined to add another chapter by matching the county's hurlers in claiming a spot in the All-Ireland final.
If they beat Mayo in Croke Park tomorrow (3.30) the team that started the Championship as 500/1 outsiders will fly the Tipperary colours in the football final for the first time since 1920.
Qualifying for both senior finals in the same year - a feat last achieved by Galway in 2001 - would be a remarkable accomplishment for Tipperary, not least because the footballers finished sixth in Division 3.
Indeed, if they had lost the final game to Sligo, they would have dropped into Division 4.
However, Tipperary improved beyond all recognition in the Championship, beating Cork for the first time in 72 years.
And while they lost to Kerry in the Munster final, wins over Derry and Connacht champions Galway earned them a place in an All-Ireland semi-final for the first time since 1935.
"This is the highest level we've been at. Mayo will bring a lot of intensity and put us under big pressure. How we handle that will have a big bearing on how we go," said manager Liam Kearns, who last night named an unchanged team.
Tipperary go into the semi-final with a high scoring yield, having returned a total of 10-74 in five games.
Mayo are in the semi-final for a sixth successive year but this is the first one they have reached via the qualifiers, having had their five-year reign as Connacht champions ended by Galway.
Mayo last qualified for the final in 2013, losing to Dublin. They have announced one change from the team that beat Tyrone, with Kevin Keane named at full-back and Alan Dillon dropping out of attack.
Whether that actually happens remains to be seen, since Keane was on the team released for the Tyrone game while Dillon was not. Keane played no part in the game while Dillon started but was replaced at half-time.
Meanwhile, there's good news for Dublin with Eoghan O'Gara available for the clash with Kerry tomorrow week. His red card, picked up late in the quarter-final win over Donegal, has been rescinded by the GAA's Central Hearings Committee.
O'Gara was reported for 'striking with the hand' but had the offence downgraded to 'rough play', which should have warranted a yellow card only.