Power hopes solid groundwork pays off for Tipp
For most of the summer the hype in Tipperary revolved around the senior hurlers and their bid to win back-to-back All-Ireland titles. And while they were making their way to the All-Ireland final the Tipperary minor footballers were quietly doing the same.
In the Munster semi-final they came from 11 points down to shock favourites Kerry, and from there they beat Cork in the final, disposed of Meath in the All-Ireland quarter-final and Roscommon in the semi-final to earn a crack at Dublin this afternoon.
Yet, despite this series of impressive performances they have gone in to all their games as the underdogs and today is no different. Dublin are hotly tipped to win the Tom Markham Cup, having cruised through the Leinster championship before overcoming Cork and Galway to secure their spot in the final.
The Tipperary manager is 27-year-old David Power. The young Kilsheelan-Kilcash clubman is in his third year in charge. He got involved in inter-county management six years ago at under 15 level and has moved up the ranks with his side over the last number of years. Football has always been a part of his life, despite Tipperary being known for its hurling.
"Ever since I was a child, I've been involved in football," said Power. "My father was the football board secretary in 1984 when Tipp got to their last minor All-Ireland final and this year he is back in the job. Hopefully history won't repeat itself though, because we want to win." Dublin won by eight points that day.
There has been something of a football revolution in the county and, as it stands, Tipperary are Munster champions from under 15 to minor level.
"There has been great work done over the last number of years by a lot of good people between schools, clubs and the different underage squads. For me, the players are coming into the squad in better shape, they have a good foundation of work behind them. We are trying to put a template in place where we are playing the same brand of football from under 14 right up to senior level."
Power hopes the work being done at underage level will benefit the senior set-up in the near future. However, he knows that success at senior level will not come overnight.
"We know that we have to have patience with it, but the most important thing is that whatever happens today, the work doesn't stop."
The county board have been very supportive of the minor footballers, all their needs have been accommodated. And Power believes there is no reason the county can't be strong at both senior football and hurling in the future.
Today is a huge challenge. "The matches have been getting bigger and bigger as we've been going along and the team have got better," explained Power. "Our poorest game was the Meath one, that was the first game I could see that the lads were nervous. Meath were the Leinster runners-up and we had won Munster, there was a lot of pressure on us but since then they have gone from strength to strength. I guess we won't know how they will cope until it happens."
However, Power has John Evans to turn to for advice. The Kerryman has been instrumental in underage development in Tipperary. "John has been a great mentor and gives the team a great lift. He has great experience, you need a good background team and I have that. I'm fortunate that I have plenty of good people involved."
Tipperary: E Comerford; N O'Sullivan, J Meagher, C O'Sullivan; C O'Riordan, D Fitzelle, S Kennedy; S O'Brien, I Fahey; G Henry, P Quirke, B Maher; L McGrath, M Quinlivan, TJ Ryan
Dublin (probable): R O'Hanlon; G Hannigan, R McDaid, R Real; E Lowndes, J Small, J McCaffrey; P O'Higgins, E Ó Conghaile; C Costello, C Kilkenny, G Ivory; S Fulham, P Mannion, D Campbell
Sunday Indo Sport