Sport Gaelic Football

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Evans ignores eligibility row as Tipp bid to shock Kerry in U-21 decider

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

JOHN EVANS can't get the words out. There are too many ideas and ambitions to verbalise them all at once, but he makes a brave fist of it.

Tonight, Tipperary contest their ninth U-21 Munster football final against a Kerry side that Evans says are looking to for the next wave of success.

"Not that physically big, but beautiful kick-passing footballers, lots of really stylish players," sighs the Kerryman -- an All-Ireland U-21 winner himself -- with a mixture of envy and pride.

Tipperary football has been transformed since the Laune Rangers man took charge in late 2007. Since then, successive promotions from Division 4 to Division 2 has seen them decorated with garlands like a Kentucky derby winner, even if last weekend saw them take their first backwards step in years as they were demoted back to the third tier.

Still, there are so many more positives than negatives. Tonight's clash with his native Kerry in Tralee is the Premier County's fourth successive Munster final appearance. They were beaten by an injury-time goal by eventual All-Ireland winners Cork 12 months ago but, by Evans' admission, Tipp are not as strong this year.

Fancied

"We fancied ourselves last year and we took the game to Cork the whole way. This year we are down a lot in numbers, though everyone is in the same boat. What we have isn't too bad either.

"Kerry are very fast, accurate footballers and they'd skin you if you give them space. Every reporter and supporter in Kerry would tell you that this is the team of the future. They have some wonderful players."

In the background, the row over Evans' eligibility to continue in his full-time role as the county's director of football as well as senior and U-21 manager drags on.

"I've heard nothing about it. I left it between the Tipperary County Board and Croke Park. I haven't been in any negotiations, if there is something going. I'm involved in enough things at the moment and I'll be carrying on until I'm told otherwise," he says.

The other 'things' include assisting the High School from Clonmel in the All-Ireland Colleges 'B' final against St Attracta's on Friday week.

Tonight, his friendship with Kerry boss John Kennedy will be put aside for a while as Tipp look to land a shock the likes of which the Munster championship hasn't seen since Waterford stunned the Kingdom in 2003.

Established senior players like Ciaran McDonald, Sean Carey and Peter Acheson will be expected to carry the fight. Regardless of the result, it'll be back down to work tomorrow. As Evans says: "There is plenty to be getting on with."

Irish Independent

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