posted by Friends of Tipperary FootballFriends of Tipperary Football on Sat Aug 11, 2018
This week the Tipperary Football Committee have released details of the two official launches of their strategic plan for the future of Tipperary football and these events will coincide with a reunion of some of our past football teams.
It’s been a few months since the initial meeting in the Anner Hotel to kick of the process of building a strategic plan for Tipperary football and after a good deal of input from a lot of people, the good news is that we’re almost there!
Following that meeting, 30 people worked in one of the six groups formed to take the suggestions from the night and formulate the first draft of that section of the plan. As a reminder the six sections were as follows:
Promotion of football to the Tipperary general public
Promotion and development of football in primary schools
Promotion and development of football in secondary schools
Juvenile participation and competition structures
Adult participation and competition structures
Development of the game in non-traditional football areas
These individual plans were presented to, and reviewed by the Tipperary Football Committee. After some minor additions and amendments the full plan was presented to the Tipperary County Board Executive and at a recent meeting of county board club delegates for approval.
The final draft is now with the printers and will be available in the coming days. We are holding two separate launch events as follows:
– Hibernian Inn, Nenagh on Saturday August 25th.
– Clonmel GAA Centre on Saturday Sept 8th.
Both events will take place at 9pm. At the Nenagh event we will also honour the All Ireland Junior Football winning team of 1998 and the Clonmel launch will also serve as a re-union of the Tipperary Senior football teams of 1993, ’94 & ’98 who all reached Munster Senior Football finals.
Both these events are open to all, and in particular we extend an invite to all who have been involved in any way with the development of this plan and anyone who has an interest in Tipperary football in general. Copies of the plan will be available on the night and published subsequently on relevant social media platforms.
Anthony Shelley looks back at the 2018 Jim Power Tournament
Kerry South 1-7 Tipperary 1-4
Having successfully overcome Limerick and Mid-West Cork earlier in the month, the Tipperary under-14 footballers travelled to Dungarvan on Saturday to play in the cup finals of the Jim Power Tournament.
After watching the qualifying rounds of this tournament, you did not need to be a close relative of Mystic Meg to know that the winners of South Kerry and Tipperary would be strongly fancied to win the tournament.
American author Ralph Waldo Emerson believed that American writers should not be in awe of European literature. Taking their cue from Emerson, on Saturday morning a group of Tipperary footballers decided that they should not be in awe of Kerry footballers but alas, yet again as far as Tipperary Gaa 2018 is concerned, lady luck proved she is anything but a lady!
Kerry as you would expect are all wonderful footballers but this particular group of South Kerry boys were also very strong in the tackle and prepared to hunt in packs to force a turnover which must surely have pleased Mike Frank Russell and his management team.
Tipperary too are wonderful footballers and although it’s an awful cliché, their willingness to die for the jersey was never going to be in question because, from the moment this panel of 33 players came together, their eagerness to learn and work was a joy to behold. When you have that, then you know you have a team! 21 clubs may have made up the panel but from day one, these young men played and trained as if they had known each other all their lives.
From the throw in, this game was so nip and tuck that a plastic surgeon would have being proud of his work. Football at this level is how the game should be played. The hits were hard but fair and both teams moved the ball swiftly through the lines by hand and foot.
Shane Ryan, dealt comfortably with anything Kerry threw at him and was directing traffic with intelligent kick outs. His cause was helped by willingness of his full back line of Ben Currivan, Odhráin Donaghy and James Cody to show for the ball. When Shane had to go long, Michael Ryan, Conor Wall, and Jamie Carroll were not found wanting in the air.
With twelve minutes of the twenty minute half gone, Kerry led by three points to two but by now the hard working Philly Hayes and Darragh McVickers were beginning to dictate matters in midfield. Indeed, these two combined to chase down and turnover a Kerry attack and 4 passes later Darragh Minogue was rattling the back of the Kerry net. A Paul Mullen point saw Tipp extend the lead to three points. Kerry responded with three points of their own before a defensive mix up let them in for a goal just before the tea break.
The breeze, which was breathing gently in Tipperary’s favour at the start of the game, freshened up as the half went on meaning Kerry would play with a stronger breeze in the second half. It was the start of the bad luck that would befall Tipp over the next 20 mins.
The second half was a battle of unremitting fascination. The half forward line of Eoin Craddock, Sean Ryan and Oisin Maher were asked to drop a bit deeper against the wind and time and time again did unpaid and unpensionable work for their team.
The old saying that the full forward line is the first line of defence was certainly true in this game and the trio of Ciaran Woodlock, Paul Mullen and Darragh Minogue can be very pleased with their days work.
But this performance wasn’t all about hard work. Some of the most skilful players on the field were wearing Tipperary jerseys and it was the Tipp men who were trying to play the more attractive type of football.
With the aid of the wind Kerry were enjoying more possession but time and time again their attacks were thwarted by some wonderful Tipp defending with substitutes Adam Brannigan and Stephen Walsh putting up the Thou Shall Not Pass sign.
As the half progressed, Tipperary once again got to grips with the game and moves involving Paul Mullen, Orrin Jones and Ciaran Woodlock saw two goal chances created but the Kerry goalkeeper brought off two saves of the highest quality.
With minutes to go a Sean Ryan run ended when he was upended in the penalty area. Only the referee knows why this wasn’t a penalty and when the ball broke for Paul Mullen to finish to the net, the Kerry full back dived and stopped the ball with a foot block. Again the referee waved play on. Two penalties denied in the space of two seconds summed up the luck on the day and South Kerry ran out winners on a score line of 1-7 to 1-4.
Sometimes the scoreboard doesn’t tell the full story.
Team:Shane Ryan (Clonmel Commercials), James Cody (Mullinahone), Odhráin Donaghy (Durlas Og), Ben Currivan (Golden), Michael Ryan (Ballingarry), Conor Wall (Durlas Og), Jamie Carroll (Emly), Philip Hayes Capt. (Durlas Og), Darragh McVickers (Clonmel Og), Oisin Maher (Cahir), Sean Ryan (Upperchurch), Eoin Craddock (Holycross/Ballycahill), Darragh Minogue (Durlas Og), Paul Mullen (Drom/Inch), Ciaran Woodlock (Durlas Og): Subs Used: Adam Brannigan (Clonmel Commercials), Orrin Jones (Knockavilla Kickhams), Stephen Walsh (Moycarkey/Borris) Vanston Worrell (Moneygall/Clonakenny)
Next up was the host county of Waterford, a team who had topped their group earlier in the month.
Ernest Hemingway said that “to make war you need intelligence but to win you need talent” and despite making fourteen changes for this game, Tipperary would prove they had both the football intelligence and talent to go to war.
The pace of this game was every bit as fast as the previous game even if the play was a bit more open.
Win it or kill it was the Tipperary mantra for the throw it. Tipperary won it and the tone was set. A couple of Brian Quinn points, including one from an angle that would have William Tell nodding approval, helped settle early nerves and for the next twenty minutes Tipperary put on an exhibition of football seldom seen in Bushy Park, Dungarvan or any park for that matter.
Tristian McCormack-Ryan and Ben Ryan took control of midfield and this gave the Tipperary forwards a platform to perform.
JP Anglim started to direct the orchestra and delivered quality ball to his band members including Donnacha O’Meara (who would finish the game with 1-4), Conor Parker, the aforementioned Brian Quinn, and the outrageously skilful pair of Jack O’Neill and Vanston Worrell, began hitting the high notes.
By the time the referee blew the whistle for the jaffa cakes, Tipp led 1-8 to 0-3, a score line that flattered Waterford.
The second half saw Waterford enjoy more possession but this time it was the turn of the Tipperary back line to turn on the style. Tom Bourke’s kick-outs, even against the wind, were going farther than you would on your holidays, while Odhráin Donaghy and Sean Leahy were patrolling their centre positions with all the alertness of a parish priest at a 1950’s ceile. They were well supported by their four curates Alex Moloney, Conor Farrell, Stephen Dee and Tadgh Gould.
With the aid of the wind Waterford narrowed the score to four points. Just when it seemed, despite having been outplayed, that Waterford were going to make a game of it, one of their midfielders took a touch too many and was hit by a bolt from the blue and gold in the form of Ben Ryan. A swift counter attack followed and JP Anglim finished to the net.
Substitute goalkeeper Eoghan Doyle kept his goal mouth neat and tidy and had no chance with the two late Waterford goals. Indeed these goals made for an exciting last couple of minutes but the Tipp boys held out for a 2-12 to 2-10 victory.
Team:Tom Bourke (JK Brackens) Conor Farrell (Knockavilla Kickhams) Odráin Donaghy Capt (Durlas Og) Tadgh Gould (Holycross/Ballycahill), Stephen Dee, Sean Leahy (Cahir), Alex Moloney (Durlas Og), Ben ryan (Arravale Rovers) Tristian McCormack-Ryan (Moycarkey Borris), Jack O’Neill (Ardfinnan), JP Anglim (Rosegreen), Vanston Worrell (Moneygall/Clonakenny), Donnacha O’Meara (Lorrha/ Dorrha) , Conor Parker (Clonmel Commercials), Brian Quinn (Clonmel Commercials. Subs Used: Eoghan Doyle (Rosegreen), Orrin Jones (Knockavilla Kickhams) Adam Brannigan (Clonmel Commercials), Stephan Walsh (Moycarkey Borris)
Note:Kerry South went on to win the final, beating North Cork 3-7 to 2-2.
1998 Reunion and Launch of Strategic Plan
In 1998 Seamus McCarthy’s junior football team captured the All-Ireland junior football title after defeating Offaly in the decider in Portlaoise having earlier disposed of Cork in the Munster final. The Tipperary Football Committee and the Friends of Tipperary Football will honour this team on the twentieth anniversary of their amazing success on Saturday 25th of August in Nenagh.
Nenagh was chosen as the ideal place due to the fact that captain Kevin Coonan hails from the Nenagh Éire Óg club.
You can read more about this team’s exploits here.
Also on the night, the Tipperary Football Committee will officially launch their three year strategic plan for the future of the game in the Premier county. Driven by Conor O’ Dwyer, this work provides a comprehensive and detailed plan on where we would like to see football go in the near future. Anyone with an interest in Gaelic football is more than welcome to attend on the night.
This weekend the GAA mark the 100th anniversary of Gaelic Sunday, a day in which the GAA defied the British authorities in Ireland. Earlier in 1918 the government demanded that all gatherings, including GAA matches, required a permit before going ahead. Disgruntled, the GAA organised a series of matches throughout the country in open defiance of the ban, knowing that the RIC would not have the resources to police all games.
“You’ll have to excuse me, I’m as manky as a pony’s hole”. That was the introduction of a friend of ours to legendary Australian sprint coach, Nancy Atherton. Nancy was in Templemore tracing her Irish heritage and our friend had come straight from the bog after saving the turf.
We knew nothing about sprinting and I suspect Nancy knew less about saving turf but somehow the conversation flowed easily all night. She had won a Commonwealth Games gold medal in 1954 as part Australian 4 X 100m relay team. Injury prevented her from participating in the 1956 Olympics Games in Melbourne where her teammates went on to win Olympic Gold. Her father, Pakie Fogarty, had left Curreeny, Kilcommon for Australia in the 1930’s and her aunt, Bridget had settled in Kilawardy, Killea. Although she had achieved a lot in her life, Nancy’s big regret was missing out on the Olympics in Melbourne.
John “Red” Kelly hailed from Moyglass, Fethard. In 1841 he was sentenced to seven years for stealing two pigs and transported to Tasmania. When his sentence was served he moved to Melbourne, married and had seven children including Edward who would later become known as Australia’s most famous outlaw, Ned Kelly. After a promising start to his career, Ned was eventually captured and hanged in Melbourne Jail in 1880.
Mick O’Riordan hails from Fethard and settled in Kilawardy Killea. To-date Melbourne had proved an unhappy hunting ground for people with Kilawardy and Fethard roots but on 15th July 2018, all that was about change!
The iPhone rooster woke me at 5:30am. My first thoughts were “feck you Colin O’Riordan, this better be worth it”.
I had planned to watch the game in the O’Riordan household. It’s a house that no visitor has ever left without being fed and although Imelda was in Melbourne to watch her youngest son make his Sydney Swans debut, her second oldest son Kevin, proved that the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. As I drove the three miles from Templemore to Killea, I purposely connected the phone to the radio and played The Sultans of Ping hit, “Give him a ball and a yard of Grass”. The song title is a Brian Clough quote about former Nottingham Forest winger, John Robertson but I’ve always associated the song with Colin O’Riordan. Not only will he “give you a move with a perfect pass” but he is also, as Clough put it “a nice young man with a lovely smile”.
I mightn’t be the sharpest tool in the box but I was clever enough to realise that good players make good coaches so when thirteen year old Colin O’Riordan rocked up for JK Brackens under-16 training one night, I made a mental note to ensure that I would be involved in any team he was playing on for the next few years. He had it all skill wise, he had speed without being an express, his high fielding was a joy to behold, his will to win was second to none but yet it was his bitterness that I admired the most. He may have being playing against some good friends on the opposition team but for the hour the game was on, friendships were parked and the opposition became the enemy. When the game was over, friendships resumed again. It’s how sport should be and Colin had it down to a tee.
A minor football All Ireland medal went into his back pocket in 2011, followed by a minor hurling All-Ireland medal plus a Munster minor football in 2012 and an under-21 Munster football medal together with under-21 Player of the Year accolade came his way in 2015. A Tipperary senior football debut arrived at just nineteen years of age and such was his skillset that it came as no surprise when Tadgh Kenneally offered him the chance of to try out at the 2015 AFL combine. Before he went, he got himself into the shape of his life spending countless hours learning how to kick and hand pass an Australian football or a Sherrin as the Aussies call it. It was enough to impress Sydney Swans Football Club and a two-year rookie contract was offered.
In his first year he made the 2016 NEAFL team of the year before a punctured lung and a broken bone in his back curtailed his progress. 2017 was steady without being spectacular but from the start of the 2018 season it was clear to all that an AFL debut wasn’t going to be far away. Outstanding performance after outstanding performance in the NEAFL meant that Swans first team coach John Longmire simply couldn’t ignore him any longer.
I arrive at O’Riordan’s and Kevin has the house made into a Sydney Swan shrine. I walk into the sitting room where nineteen other early swallows had arrived decked out in the Sydney Swans famous red and white colours. I knew straight away that I was going to be watching the game in excellent company and I wasn’t wrong as the craic proved to be well above the national average.
Shakespeare was a great man for encouraging lads to grab an opportunity when it arose. In Julius Caesar he spoke of a ‘tide in the affairs of men that when taken at the flood leads to great fortune”. All of us who know Colin knew that he wouldn’t let this opportunity pass because he had the skill and the guts to take the tide at the flood. We would not be disappointed. When the stats are totted up at the end of the game Colin in named amongst the best players for Sydney.
Maybe it was a hangover from watching two games of Gaelic Football in the not so Super 8’s the day before but the first thing that struck me about the North Melbourne v Sydney Swans game yesterday was the sheer pace of the game and with a fast game you generally get excitement. There is so much we could learn from Aussie Rules that would improve Gaelic football but it appears the powers that be only favour change when it puts a few extra bob in the bank rather than change a few rules that would make our once great game watchable again. The irony is if they changed the rules, banned things like blanket defences, limited the amount of hand passes while increasing the amount of steps you can take with the ball in your hand, the crowds would come back and the extra money would flow.
Some of the high catching yesterday was textbook stuff including six marks by Colin. But it was the kick passing that impressed me the most. Such was the accuracy of the kick passing I would not be surprised if I heard that William Tell was alive and well and coaching football in Australian schools. Even the hand passing is used as an attacking weapon rather than the “keep ball” tactic it has become in Gaelic Football.
Back in Kilawardy, the octane level rises every time Colin touches the ball and a Swans score is greeted like it’s the winning Tipperary point in an All-Ireland Final v Cork. The women in the room inform us that Buddy Franklin is a fine specimen of a man and interestingly nobody disagrees. All heaven broke loose when he slotted his 900th career goal. Buddy may not have being on our radar before yesterday morning but now he is our favourite sports star in the world.
Colin is sporting a bandage around his head but a mere flesh wound was never going to stop a man, who played the last few minutes of an All Ireland Minor final with a broken pelvis, from performing at his best. There is an old husbands tale that players are ‘born’ footballers. When Colin O’Riordan arrived into the world he didn’t have “footballer” stamped on his forehead but through practice, skill and sheer determination, yesterday he looked like he was born to play Australian Rules Football. In the cauldron that is the AFL, the first gamer, as the Aussie’s call him, looked cool and calm and composed
Swans lead by thirteen points at half time but North Melbourne dominate the third quarter and the early part of the fourth and with just minutes remaining are leading by seven. A Ben Ronke behind in the 27th minute brought the game back to six and a minute later Ronke equalised with his 5th goal of the day. Then with just 1.48 left on the clock Aliir Aliir (so good they named him twice) ran onto a loose ball and slotted home the winner for Sydney.
As we sat down to the fry, we were as happy as small children being taken to their first circus. Carlsberg don’t do perfect mornings but if they did……………
posted by Friends of Tipperary FootballFriends of Tipperary Football on Fri Jul 13, 2018
We extend our best wishes to former Tipperary and JK Brackens player Colin O’ Riordan who makes his senior Sydney Swans debut this weekend
Colin had a glittering underage career with Tipperary winning two Munster minor football medals (2011, 2012), an All-Ireland minor medal in 2011 as well as captaining the county under-21 side to Munster glory in 2015. That same year he won a Allianz Division Four medal with the senior set up. The talented sports star was also well able to hurl and represented the Premier at underage.
The Killea man appeared to have a glittering Gaelic football career ahead of him before switching to the oval ball in Australia in October 2015.
Colin wont be alone this weekend as Sydney Swans have kindly flown out his parents Michael and Imelda to watch him make his debut against North Melbourne in the Etihad Stadium.
You can read an interview with Colin on the Sydney Swans website here.
Colin will also be interviewed by Ronan Quirke this Monday evening on Extra Time on Tipp FM and we look forward to hearing him discuss how his first senior match for the Swans went.
The Tipperary under-14 football squad traveled to Dungarvan last Saturday to compete in the Jim Power Munster tournament, the results of which would determine whether we would compete in the cup or shield finals on July 28th again in Dungarvan. We were drawn in a group of three with Limerick and Cork Mid-West.
Our first game against Limerick was a rather one sided affair as we lead 2-4 to 0-0 at half-time. We brought all our substitutes on and conceded three late goals but ran out easy winners 5-7 to 3-0.
Our second game was against a very strong Cork Mid-West team was a very different affair. In a brilliant game of football we were 1-7 to 1-5 behind at half-time and with five minutes to go we were four points down but our boys never gave up and fought back to win by four. It was a brilliant result as on such a warm day we had to play our games back to back while Cork Mid-West had a break while we played Limerick, we topped our group and now join the elite of Munster football in the cup finals.
Panel: Shane Ryan Clonmel Commercials, Tom Bourke JK Brackens, Eoghan Doyle Rockwell Rovers, James Cody Mullinahone, Odhrain Donaghy Durlas Óg, Stephen Dee Solohead, Jamie Carroll Emly, Conor Wall Durlas Óg, Michael Ryan Ballingarry, Ben Ryan Arravale Rovers, Philly Hayes Durlas Óg, Oisin Maher Cahir, Sean Ryan Upperchurch Drombane, Eoghan Craddock Holycross, Orrin Jones Knockavilla Kickhams, Paul Mullen Drom & Inch, Darragh Minogue Durlas Óg, Vanson Worrell Moneygall, Sean Leahy Cahir, Conor Farrell Knockavilla Kickhams, Jack O’ Neill Ardfinnan, Darragh McVickers Clonmel Óg, Brian Quinn JK Brackens, JP Anglim Rosegreen, Ciaran Woodlock Durlas Óg, Tristan McCormack Ryan Moycarkey Borris, Ben Currivan Golden Kilfeacle, Tadhg Gould Holycross, Alex Moloney Durlas Óg, Donnacha O’ Mara Lorrha & Dorrha, Conor Parker Clonmel Commercials, Adam Brannigan Clonmel Commercials.
Tommy landers Knockavilla Kickhams
Anthony Shelley JK Brackens
Shane Hodgkin. Knockshegowna
Trevor Creed. Clonmel commercials
Derry peters. Aherlow.
The Tipperary under-15 panel
The under-15 side had a brilliant win the Shield Final defeating Clare 5-9 to 0-12. They had previously lost their opening game to Kerry South by one point, 2-10 to 3-6 which sent them into the shield competition. There they beat Limerick in the semi-final 3-10 to 1-5 before accounting for The Banner in the final. Well done to team captain Jamie Durcan, vice-captain Emmet Butler, the entire panel and management.
Panel: James Griffin Upperchurch Drombane, Shane Ryan, Conor Neville Kilsheelan Kilcash, Niall Duffy Newport, Daniel Slattery Clonoulty Rossmore, Toby Lambe Holycross Ballycahill, Eoin O’ Dwyer Mullinahone, Stephen Cahill JK Brackens, Emmet Butler Kilsheelan Kilcash, Oisin Treacy Upperchurch Drombane, Kyle Bourke Rockwell Rovers, Sam McGawran Clonmel Commercials, Edward Meagher Loughmore Castleiney, Pa Ryan Upperchurch Drombane, Stephen Ferncombe Clonoulty Rossmore, Michael Ryan Burgess, Jack Kennedy Clonoulty Rossmore, Jack Leamy Golden, Jamie Durcan Knockavilla, Luke Shanahan Upperchurch, Luke Galvin Holycross, Conor Dooley Inane Rovers, Tony Cahill Drom & Inch, Eoin Grace Burgess, Eoghain Lonergan Arravale Rovers, Rian O’ Halloran Moyle Rovers, Jack Buckley Cahir, Peter McGarry Moyle Rovers, Rory Collins Moyle Rovers, Tom Downey Rockwell Rovers.
posted by Friends of Tipperary FootballFriends of Tipperary Football on Sun Jun 24, 2018
“T’was on the 23rd of June the day before the fair”
The year was 1992 and my first visit to Crusheen in Co Clare would prove to be an eventful one. After being fed and watered and fed again by my host for the weekend, a wonderful lady called Mary O’Brien, we headed to Fogarty’s Thatched Pub where at two in the morning I became, what used to be known as a “found on”. The Guards raiding the pub would usually mean the end of the night but not in Crusheen, Co Clare. No Siree, the night was only beginning.
I’m not sure who drove. Whoever it was probably shouldn’t have but to paraphrase the opening line of LP Hartley’s novel The Go-Between, “The past was a foreign country, they did things differently back then”. Twenty minutes later, we joined a crowd who were singing and dancing around a bonfire on the side of the road. My capacity for drinking fine ale and strong liquor wasn’t what it is now and my state could best be described as halfway between inebriated and transmoglified so my decision to sample poitín for the first time wasn’t the best one I ever made.
Just as I was thinking I was after burning a hole in my oesophagus, seanchaí Eddie Lenihan rose to his feet to tell us a story about bad luck that befell a bunch of misfortunates who cut down a fairy tree in a place called The Hand near Milltown Malbay. Because I had a few on me, I didn’t like to say it at the time but, I suspect Eddie wasn’t telling the truth.
At breakfast the next afternoon, Mary informed me that I had attended the St. John’s Eve celebrations on Spancil Hill. It was a tradition I hadn’t been aware of up until that point but it certainly explained how Johnny was able to meet his friends and neighbours, the tailor Quigley and get the shift from Ned the farmers daughter all in the one flying visit home from California.
26 years later, I’m sitting at home hoping that the 23rd June 2018 will be every bit as eventful when the phone rings and “No Caller ID” appeared on the screen. No good can come from answering those calls so I didn’t.
Two minutes later a text came through. “Well Shel, do you want a free ticket to the match tonight”
It was a welcome text but an awkward moment. The sender knew me well enough to call me Shel and offer me tickets, but yet I didn’t have his or her name in the contact list on my phone. Under the circumstances, I thought it would be rude to ask who was texting so I replied “Sound, where will I meet you?”
A couple hours later I’m standing outside Mackeys pub awaiting the rendezvous with the mystery caller. A car pulls up, the window is rolled down and I await the password exchange. “Crackling Rosie get on board” came the voice from the car. “Play it now, play it now” was my reply. A white envelope is passed through the window and the car moves off.
There are still two hours to throw in so there is nothing for it only to pop in to see Larry Mackey and sent a couple of Diageo’s finest down the red lane. I fall into conversation with some alarmingly knowledgeable football men and the better halves.
We spoke about everything and yet we spoke about nothing. For example, one of women informed us that the mother of Michael Nesmith from the sixties pop band, The Monkee’s, invented Tipex or Liquid Paper as it was originally known. At first I thought she was messing but then I saw her face………………….
And so via been a “found on” in a pub in Clare, chopped down fairy trees, mystery phone callers and Monkee’s with tipex, I took my place in the stand for the re-match of the 2016 All Ireland semi final between Tipperary and Mayo.
The Westerners made the brighter start and played with a pace and a power that had even the most optimistic Tipperary supporter fearing the worst. Two Cillian O’Connor frees and points from Aidan and Seamie O’Shea saw them four points up after eight minutes.
Philip Austin opened the Tipperary account and two minutes later Michael Quinlivan, the most feared attacker since Billy the Kid was in his heyday, fisted to a high ball into the box from Josh Keane to back of the net. Another Austin point puts us 1-02 to 0-04 and suddenly the nightmare start has turned into a dream.
Despite this there was still a worry in every Tipp supporters mind. It was clear that referee Maurice Deegan was going to make us to work harder for frees than Mayo. The slightest contact by a Tipp player and Maurice would indicate that he was playing the advantage rule. I have watched John Wayne movies where the baddies didn’t have their hands in the air as often as Maurice had yesterday when Mayo were on the ball and yet strangely it seemed that the Tipperary players had to fouled two or three times before a free or advantage would be given.
Bill Maher and Brian Fox in particular are the best players on show in the opening period. Time and time again the took the fight to Mayo but on a day as warm as yesterday one wondered how long they could keep that pace up. Our decision to concede the Mayo kick out in order to have numbers behind the ball, was a tactic that worked well but it also sapped the energy because as every small boy and girl knows, it’s easier play with the ball that without it and we possibly could have pushed up on one or two just to give Clarke something different to think about.
Liam McGrath and Conor Sweeney add points and McGrath got his second of the day shortly after a brilliant David Clarke save denied Quinlivan his second goal. Shortly before half time, a brilliant catch and turn and shot by Quinlivan keeps the Hawkeye man in gainful employment and he signals his approval with a Tá.
As we approach the tea break, Colm Clarke body checks a Robbie Kiely run for a text book black card offence but amazingly while issuing the black card, Maurice Deegan doesn’t award Tipp the free but opts to throw in the ball instead.
And so and eventful and brilliant first half ends with Tipp leading 1-07 to 0-08.
Half Time at a Tipp match is a great place to eavesdrop in on conversations. I overheard Tipperary fans expressing worry about our energy levels. Others worried about a few sloppy wides we had and hoped they would come back to haunt us while almost everyone worried about how hard we had to work to be awarded a free. We seemed to worry about everything other than Mayo! And rightly so I believe. Tipperary don’t need to bend the knee to any team and the first half had proved that they could stand toe to toe with the best.
Mayo were quickly out of the blocks in Act 2 and were level within a couple of minutes. Tipperary’s response was swift and brilliant. Points from Quinlivan, Sweeney and McGrath had us three in front with a little over fifteen minuets to play.
And then came the turning point of the game or if you like the turning goal. There seemed to be little danger when James Durcan collected the ball. Even James wasn’t confident that there was anything on. He hit a half hearted shot more in hope than in expectation and amazingly it dropped into the far top corner of the net.
Napoleon said his most formidable opponent was a general called Luck. Yesterday in Thurles, the Tipperary footballers were defeating all before them until the came up against General Luck.
The Durcan goal seemed to collectively suck the life out of the Tipp players and crowd and from there to the end of the game Mayo bossed the proceedings and ran out eight point winners on a score line of 1-19 to 1-11.
And so the Tipperary football year is over. Like the ancient mariner I suspect Liam Kearns came away from Thurles yesterday a sadder but wiser man. Sadder because the 2018 targets weren’t achieved but wiser because the way he set up his team yesterday made us tighter at the back and with better and quicker transition of the ball from defence to attack, he knows that we are now capable of competing with the best.