Saturday 18 November 2017

Evans fumes over 'poaching' of Tipp stars by US clubs

Jackie Cahill

TIPPERARY manager John Evans has slammed the "poaching" of some of his top stars by American clubs.

Evans had to plan without goalkeeper Matthew O'Donnell and forward pair Peter Acheson and Conor Sweeney for last Saturday's All-Ireland SFC qualifier defeat against Laois in Portlaoise.

The trio are spending the summer in the United States, with Sweeney and Acheson playing for the Sean Treacys club in San Francisco, while O'Donnell is in Boston, playing with 'Galway' and 'Wexford' in football and hurling respectively.

Sweeney scored a point against Kerry in last month's Munster SFC quarter-final before Acheson replaced him late in the game, while O'Donnell impressed between the sticks.

Evans has now revealed that his young guns were earmarked months ago for a transatlantic switch after the Munster SFC draw pitted Tipperary against Kerry in the 2011 championship.

A similar situation unfolded in the summer of 2010 when Evans lost star defender Ciaran McDonald, Chris Aylward and Alan Moloney to summer stints in the US following defeat to Kerry.

But Kerry native Evans has vowed that a similar situation will not be allowed to unfold if, as expected, he is in charge again next year.

He fumed: "I'm instilling a mindset into the players where you can go and compete (against) and beat Kerry and these clubs are saying, 'hey, forget it lads, we have a great job over here for you and a great club to play for. You are roaring certainties to be beaten.' That's what I'm angry about, that's what I'm upset about.

"I would wish young fellas to have the best opportunity -- but when the season is over, when the final whistle blows and you're knocked out. We'll go back into training now and there will be a lot of fellas planning for next year.

"Plan (that) you play football for your county for the whole season, not for half the season.

"I'm particularly annoyed with Tipperary people poaching our own players, setting them up and feeding them the wrong mindset, the wrong signal and telling them that they're going to be beaten by Kerry.

"And if we draw Cork next year, they're going to take five are they? Where do you stop? It's hard to blame young fellas, they're in college, I fully understand that. They're being offered a lot... but it's something for another day and it's something that will be addressed."

He added: "It will be one of the criteria that I will be marking down next year. A team like Tipperary, we cannot be investing money into training for other clubs to reap the rewards. Not any more -- Tipperary can't afford to do that."

Evans, meanwhile, refused to be drawn on his future in charge of the Tipperary senior footballers.

He has overseen some remarkable development at all grades in recent years -- with Tipp crowned Munster U-21 champions in 2010.

And next Sunday, the county's minors are chasing a first Munster title since 1995, when they tackle Cork in the provincial decider in Killarney.

"I've a Munster final next Sunday -- that's the first thing," Evans said. "I coach those guys. There's a lot of football to be played in Tipp. We've come a long way and people expect us to make a massive jump and we're not. We're only taking itsy-bitsy steps. We've got 10 or 11 -- we've got to add to that (senior) team. We have to add physicality and height to the team."

Irish Independent

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