Saturday 20 January 2018

Evans must bring U-21 stars 'back to earth' for Donegal test

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

LAST Wednesday week's success broke new ground for both John Evans and Tipperary football.

The county's first Munster football title at that grade sparked wild celebrations, presenting the Kerryman with an unfamiliar challenge ahead of tomorrow's All-Ireland semi-final with Donegal in Parnell Park.

"We've been trying to bring them back to earth," said the Laune Rangers man. "There was a great sense of euphoria and everywhere they went they were being slapped on the back and being told they were great.

"That's going to be hard for them but I think they are a level-headed bunch and I think they are conscious that they are walking this road for the first time, that no team from the county has ever been before where they are now."

Evans played down his side's chances ahead of their win over Kerry in the provincial final and believes his side also enter the semi-final as underdogs.

"The thing about Donegal is they are really well organised. Jim McGuinness has done a fantastic job with them and that they have the Young Player of the Year in Michael Murphy is a huge help. But they are not just about him, they have a plan A, B and C."


"I had seen Cavan (who Donegal beat in the Ulster final) earlier in the year and I thought they were going places. When Donegal beat them in the way they did, I was very impressed. Whereas with our final I suppose a lot of people would say that Kerry would beat us nine times out of 10."

The High School from Clonmel also recently secured the All-Ireland colleges 'B' title under Evans' tutelage but he branded tomorrow's clash "the biggest game we will be involved in this year".

"Murphy is a huge player for them. He has rare talent, to have the size and power along with the finesse he has. (Kieran) Donaghy is the best in the business and I'd put him right up there along with him. But it's not just about him, they have (Leo) McLoone and (Dermot) Molloy too who are also very powerful and their defence is so disciplined."

According to Evans, Tipp's relegation from Division 2 was the "first time in my life that I'd taken a backward step with a team".

The Tipperary County Board are waiting on clarification from this weekend's Congress regarding the legality of Evans' appointment as Director of Football while he continues to hold the position of senior and U-21 manager.

Croke Park recently warned that no full-time coach should be involved with teams barring "exceptional circumstances".

There's hardly anything more exceptional than a Tipperary football team in an All-Ireland final.

Irish Independent

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