Monday 16 December 2019

Tipp 'warrior' Acheson can give Kingdom headaches - O'Brien

Stephen O'Brien in action. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Stephen O'Brien in action. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

When confirmation of Tipperary's win over Cork was announced over the PA system in Killarney's Fitzgerald stadium on Sunday, Kerry's Stephen O'Brien was only mildly surprised.

The Kenmare man had just put in a man of the match performance as the Kingdom dismissed Clare with ease.

And while the news of Tipp's first win over the Rebels in 72 years caught a few off guard, O'Brien has first hand experience of how good some of the Premier players are.

"I played with some of the Tipp lads in college, Peter Acheson and Conor Sweeney and they are class players I can tell you," O'Brien said.

"Acheson is a warrior and Sweeney is deadly up front so they obviously have some serious talent. They have won an All-Ireland Minor as well and last year were very unlucky to lose the All-Ireland U-21 final to Tyrone by a point so we know their quality.

"So they are at the right age now to be making a break through at senior level so we will not be underestimating the Tipperary threat at all."

O'Brien also pointed out that a large portion of the Kerry squad would have suffered at the hands of Tipperary at underage level.

"It's still going to be a Munster final with a cup up for grabs," O'Brien said of the July 3 clash that is fixed for Killarney.

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"You are playing for Kerry and for the jersey so if you need motivation you are in the wrong place really, no matter who you are playing. Remember as well a lot of the younger lads on our team have had some heartache against them.

"I wasn't on the panel, but in my first year out of minor (2010), Kerry had a very much fancied U-21 team that was expected to reach an All-Ireland final and it was considered a serious team.

"And yet Tipperary made history by turning over Kerry in the Munster final in Tralee so those Kerry players will not need motivation."

O'Brien hit 1-5 on Sunday, 1-4 of which came in a blistering first-half display. However, with former Footballer of the Year James O'Donoghue completing 60 minutes for his club over the weekend and Johnny Buckley edging back towards full fitness, O'Brien knows he'll have a job to hold on to his spot.

"Every day you go out, you just try and play better and that is how you get to the top," he continued. "You don't have to look too far across the dressing room for inspiration, because you are looking at Gooch or James and the levels that they are able to get to.

"So it's not just about getting on the team it's about getting your play up to the next level. The rest of us are just trying to aspire to the levels that they have reached "

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