Monday 19 February 2018

We're not going to Croker to make up the numbers - Kearns

Josh Keane. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Josh Keane. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Jackie Cahill

Tipperary football manager Liam Kearns admits that his players are in bonus territory ahead of Sunday's All-Ireland quarter-final against Galway - but has urged them to grasp the opportunity that presents itself at Croke Park.

In his first season at the helm, Kearns has already achieved three long-term goals - beating one of Munster's top two (Cork), contesting a provincial final and breaking through to the last eight of the All-Ireland series.

But Kearns is not content with that and has vowed that the Premier County are not going to Croke Park simply to make up the numbers against the Connacht champions.

He said: "The only goal we didn't reach was promotion from Division 3 but we'll have to tear up the long-term goals now and look at another set.

"After doing it in the first year, it's bonus territory but you don't know whether they're going to get back there again.

"We have to make the most of the opportunity. We're not going to make up the numbers, and we have a chance to get to an All-Ireland semi-final."

Tipp were outsiders against Derry in last Saturday's qualifier at Kingspan Breffni Park, and the bookies don't fancy their chances this weekend either.

Kearns noted: "Galway are 2/5 and we're 5/2. They're hotter favourites than Derry were. They were 1/2 and we were 2/1.

"Galway were very impressive in Connacht and destroyed Roscommon but the question is how good Roscommon were.

"Galway were still hugely impressive and are scoring clinically in front of the posts.

"They're very strong in the middle of the park, have a good system at the back, and we've got to accept that we're facing another tough challenge.

"We're underdogs again but coming off the back of a very good performance against Derry, we're going up there to give it everything we have."

Read more: Laois want ex-Kerry U-21 boss Sugrue to take reins

Kearns will watch this evening's Bord Gáis Energy Munster U-21 hurling final between Tipp and Waterford as dual star Josh Keane, scorer of two points against Derry, lines out at Walsh Park.

And Kearns admitted: "It's a very tough schedule for Josh. In fairness, (U-21 manager) Willie Maher and ourselves have worked out it out fine and he's performed well for both teams.

"His attitude is top class and he's listening and doing what he's been asked to do.

"He's only a young fella but by Jesus, he kicked two great points and caught a massive ball near the end when we needed it.

"His work-rate is excellent and he's just a good player and getting better."

Kearns is expected to announce the same starting team for a fourth successive championship game.

Irish Independent

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