Premier football is 'going places', warns sharpshooter O'Halloran
It's a long way from an U-12 'C' medal to the Munster final, especially when your club hasn't had an adult team until this year.
But that's the journey of Portroe's Kevin O'Halloran who, despite hailing from a hurling stronghold in Tipperary, has made quite the mark with the county's footballers.
O'Halloran is almost an accidental footballer. A good performance for the Portroe U-21s brought him on the radar of Joe Harrington from the Friends of Tipperary Football. The rest is history.
"Joe rang me on a Tuesday evening at 6.40 wanting to know if I could go down for training at 7.30 below in Thurles. Thurles would be 40 minutes away from me and I said, 'Joe, I'll never make training tonight, I'll be late. I don't want to be late my first night at training'.
"He said, 'Put me on to your father, so'. I put him on to my father and he said, 'Joe will pick you up in Nenagh in 10 minutes'. So Joe picked me up and he had me in training below in Thurles at 7.45. The rest took off from there since."
O'Halloran made his Championship debut last year but it was a fortnight ago against Cork when he really made his mark. Cork had wiped out a nine-point deficit but Tipp won a '45 that O'Halloran nervelessly despatched to put his side back in the lead. And he kicked another injury-time free to seal Tipp's first Championship win over the Leesiders since 1944.
O'Halloran's effortless free-taking style is honed by years of playing in goals for his local soccer team and picking up tips from the books of Ronan O'Gara and Jonny Wilkinson.
"It's just technique that I've worked on," he said. "I've read a few books, I've listened to a few rugby lads. It's like going into a Leaving Cert exam - you have a task in front of you. You have to concentrate on yourself and not everyone around you. I just said 'listen, I have a task here and I have to block out everything that's going on and get the ball over the bar'."
And with their first Munster final appearance in 2002 coming up on Sunday with a trip to Killarney, O'Halloran sees the whole county getting behind the team.
"Even until last year in the club nearly every football in it would have been punctured!" he joked.
"No, the support is great from the club at home. There's a huge support rowing in there and I think the support is getting bigger every year with the football.
"Tipp football is going places. It's moving up the ladder and going places."