We have the belief we can hurt Mayo, insists Quinlivan
Michael Quinlivan took himself off to the Hill 16 for the All-Ireland quarter-finals that saw Mayo take on Tyrone and Dublin face Donegal.
He could have watched the games on TV but he lives close to Croke Park and the ticket, he reasoned, was only €20.
"€20 for a ticket for those two games is too good to be passing up so I went to it," he says.
What struck him instantly was the physicality of the games. Sunday's opponents Mayo are, he admits, well ahead of Tipp when it comes to the bulk stakes.
"The physicality of the game was just on another level," he concedes. "It was very interesting to watch. Mayo's big players stood up when it mattered, that was the overriding feeling that I took from it.
"They're a lot bigger than us - six years in a row they've been at an All-Ireland semi-final so they're well used to this end of the championship, and it's our first year.
"We're a bit green and maybe our conditioning mightn't be at Division 1 level because we have a lot of young guys who have just come through, but physicality is only one aspect of the game and we'd feel we have qualities in other areas that might bring us through.
"The scores in it were phenomenal. Lee Keegan's point with his left leg, under that sort of pressure, is one of the best scores of the championship. The one on the loop from Cillian O'Connor as well, an absolute monster.
"There were a lot of impressive performances on the Mayo side and we have our work cut out to try and curb the influence of a few of those players."
Tipp will be forgiven if they feel caught somewhere between trying to drink in the occasion of their first All-Ireland semi-final since 1935 and trying to prepare for what Quinlivan isn't afraid to brand as the "biggest game of all of our lives".
They failed to raise any sort of gallop in the Munster final against Kerry, having seen off Cork but Clonmel Commercials man Quinlivan believes they will be better for the experience.
"A lot of people feel we have nothing to lose; this game is the biggest game of all of our lives," he says.
"I think we were a bit worked up before the Kerry game, it being our first Munster final and that bit of... it wasn't even nerves, it was more just the occasion and it probably got to us a small bit.
"We didn't play to our potential, but we were a lot more relaxed for our last two games and if we can be as relaxed against Mayo, that will stand to us."
Tipp have bounced back remarkably since then. A gutsy win over Derry was followed up by a remarkable dismantling of a fancied Galway side. Quinlivan is full of praise for how Kerry native Liam Kearns has steered the Tipp ship this year.
"A lot of the game-plans now in the GAA are just carbon copies of things that people have seen in other teams rather than actually looking at their own players and seeing what their strengths are and we've found a thing that does suit our strengths," he says.
"We're very pacey and we're very comfortable on the ball.
"We have received a lot of plaudits for the way we're playing but it's just a style that seems to suit us.
"I think the confidence that we've gained from the last few games... we're under no illusions, we're not naive enough to think it's going to be handed to us.
"But, yeah, look, we have belief that we can hurt them. And we'll see where that takes us."