Friday 30 September 2016

Tipperary's summer surge inspiring the chasing pack

Published 18/08/2016 | 02:30

Kevin O’Halloran in action against Waterford’s Thomas O’Gorman during Tipperary’s Munster SFC victory in May. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Kevin O’Halloran in action against Waterford’s Thomas O’Gorman during Tipperary’s Munster SFC victory in May. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Tipperary's dramatic arrival in the football semi-final has sent optimism surging through several counties who regard it as a positive sign for the future.

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Liam Kearns's men have progressed from finishing sixth in Division 3 in April to reach the final four in the All-Ireland race, an advance that few would have anticipated.

"When we played them in the last game of the League, I actually thought they weren't as good as they had been a year earlier.

"I wouldn't have fancied them to beat Cork but they did. They lost to Kerry but got back on track very quickly. What they have achieved is remarkable," said Sligo manager Niall Carew.

Improving

Tipperary drew with Sligo, leaving them with two wins, three draws and two defeats from their seven games, scarcely a form line which pointed towards a lengthy Championship run.

Indeed, if Westmeath had beaten Offaly in their last League game, Tipperary would have been relegated to Division 4.

It makes their rise all the more noteworthy, although it comes as no great surprise to Clare manager Colm Collins.

"Tipperary football has been improving for a long time, winning underage titles in Munster as well as an All-Ireland minor title.

"Those of us who know them aren't a bit surprised to see them doing so well. And if they play to the heights they can, they have a good chance of beating Mayo," said Collins.

Ironically, if Derry had beaten Tipperary - and they led in stoppage time - Clare might now be preparing for the semi-final as they would have played Galway, rather than Kerry, in the quarter-final.

"There's no point looking at it like that. You play what's put in front of you and, fair play to Tipperary, they took their chance against Galway. They showed exactly what they can do when they get their game working.

"Liam Kearns is doing a great job with them. He was fierce unlucky with Limerick some years ago - they came so close to beating Kerry in the Munster final. Liam is getting his rewards now," said Collins.

Carew agrees that Kearns has played a big role in Tipp's improvement but feels that the work of his predecessor, Peter Creedon, should also be acknowledged.

Carew also reckons that Clonmel Commercials's success in last year's Munster club football championship has played a big part in making Tipperary the force they now are.

"Confidence is a huge thing and Clonmel's win showed Tipperary players what could be achieved and they've taken it a stage further this year."

Waterford manager Tom McGlinchey has watched Tipperary's exploits with considerable interest too, having had first-hand experience of their skill-set in the Munster quarter-final. Tipperary won by 1-15 to 1-7 in Dungarvan on a day when the home side shot 15 wides.

"We missed a few goals too. I was disappointed but when you see how well Tipperary have done since then, it gives counties like Waterford a lot of hope," said McGlinchey.

From there to here

Tipperary's modest set of results in Division 3 last spring gave no indication of what lay ahead. They took seven of a possible 14 points but failed to win any of their last three games.

Since then they have won four of five Championship games with three of the wins coming against Division 1 (Cork) and Division 2 (Derry and Galway) teams.

2016 ALLIANZ FL

Limerick 1-12 Tipperary 2-9

Tipperary 2-7 Clare 1-7

Westmeath 0-11 Tipperary 1-8

Tipperary 2-11 Offaly 0-12

Longford 1-17 Tipperary 1-11

Kildare 2-13 Tipperary 1-5

Sligo 0-18 Tipperary 3-9

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