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'This group won’t fear Cork, because we’ve beaten them at every level'

Tipperary boss David Power says belief won’t be a problem for his players in Sunday’s Munster final.

Tipperary’s Colman Kennedy celebrates after the win over Clare.
Tipperary’s Colman Kennedy celebrates after the win over Clare.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

IN THE FIVE weeks since the season restarted, Tipperary footballers boast a 4-0 record.

Under rookie boss David Power, the game’s second youngest county manager, they’ve enjoyed league wins over Offaly and Leitrim to save their skin in Division 3. 

Clare and Limerick have been overcome in Munster, however it would be a stretch to suggest that Tipperary have been in top gear yet. They’ve played well in patches.

In the semi-final against Limerick, Power’s side found themselves seven down at half-time. 

They turned it on after the interval to seal progression by a point in extra-time, but therein lies the problem with the Premier County. 

“It’s been a super month for us,” says Power. “The Offaly game gave us a platform to build some momentum and that is what we have achieved. Then went up to Leitrim who were really waiting for us for a number of weeks and we got a result.

“We have beaten Laois in a challenge match, we beat Clare in the championship who are both Division 2. So we can get to a standard but getting that consistency is the key and that is what we are going to be working on over the next couple of years, but the focus now is getting that consistency for Sunday.

“Now I would say there is a bigger performance in us than there was against Limerick.

“It’s more of a mental thing to be honest,” he says of their patchy form.

“We have gone on a run of four straight wins which is crucial but for some reason we seem to play to the level of our opposition, we play well against better teams and that’s not an arrogant thing but they do seem to respond a lot better.”

Having played four games in 20 days, the two-week gap will provide valuable time to rest tired bodies and treat injuries. Their main concerns are around Jack Kennedy and Steven O’Brien. He rates both as “touch and go” to make the final.

david-power-celebrates-after-the-game Tipperary manager David Power. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

The pandemic meant Michael Quinlivan, Liam Casey and Paudie Feehan had to scrap his travel plans and throw their lot in with Tipperary. That’s three big players to get back unexpectedly for the championship.

Power knows better than most the potential of these players. When he was just 26, he managed the minors to the All-Ireland title.

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Incredibly, they beat a Dublin team containing Jack McCaffrey, John Small, Eric Lowndes, Robbie McDaid, Emmet O Conghaile, Cormac Costello, Ciaran Kilkenny, Paul Mannion, David Byrne, and Niall Scully.

They’re just 70 minutes away from reaching their second All-Ireland semi-final in 85 years.

“This is a huge opportunity for Tipp or Cork, and whoever is lucky enough to get to the All-Ireland semi-final. That’s going to be another opportunity.

“There’s a huge chance for any of the (three) teams on our side to get to an All-Ireland final. 

“We will get a performance and if we get a performance we will have a very good chance of against Cork,” he says.

“That’s the key message I said to the lads at training that we are not to leave Cork on Sunday without producing a performance. If a performance isn’t good enough we will put our hands up but if we do, it will be a very tight game. 

He’s well aware what it would mean for the small pocket of football supporters in the county. 

They meet a Cork side – though fresh from a stunning win over Kerry – that Tipperary don’t fear. They’ve met frequently in recent seasons and Tipp famously beat them in the 2016 Munster semi-final. 

“I’ll even go back to our U15-16 days, this group have beaten Cork,” explains Power. 

“This group won’t fear Cork, because we’ve beaten them at every level going up,” Even back in 2016 they beat Cork.

“Okay, over the last couple of years, Cork have kind of got the run on them – but there were a couple of occasions where Tipp could easily have won, especially the game in Páirc Uí Rinn in 2017, I think Tipp could have won and maybe should have really won that game.

“So, Tipp have been very, very close. In terms of getting the players mentally ready, the players will believe that they can beat Cork and that’s a crucial thing going into the Munster final.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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