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'The script was we were supposed to disappear off on our holidays after this'

Tipperary manager Liam Kearns is now hoping his All-Ireland SFC semi-finalists will get the credit he insists they deserve.

Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

IT WAS A quite incredible sight when the final whistle sounded to bring the curtain down on yesterday’s All-Ireland senior football quarter-final between Tipperary and Galway.

There they were, like a mini Army, making their way from the Cusack Stand to the Davin Stand and finally, the centre of the Hogan Stand to celebrate with their heroes.

A loyal band of Tipperary football supporters who never thought they’d see a day like this.

As he held court in the media centre deep in the bowels of the Hogan Stand, Liam Kearns stood throughout as he fielded questions.

Satisfaction was etched all over his face and for the Kerry native, this was a monumental achievement.

Tipp ended 72 years of senior championship hurt against Cork when they beat the Rebels in the Munster SFC semi-final.

Kerry were too good in the Munster final but deep down, Tipp’s players felt they hadn’t done themselves justice.

They responded with a stirring qualifier victory over Derry nine days ago but in their very first All-Ireland quarter-final appearance, Tipperary produced a stunning display to inflict a nine-point defeat on Connacht champions Galway.

It’s a win that’s sent Tipp through to a first All-Ireland senior football semi-final since 1935 and Kearns could barely disguise his delight.

The script was we were supposed to disappear off on our holidays after this. We’ll come around again now in three weeks. I didn’t mention 1935. I told them we were going to make our own tradition. Everyone was going on about Galway’s tradition but I was telling them we were going to make our own.”

Now, Kearns reckons that Tipp will finally earn the recognition and respect he believes they deserve.

“Nobody gave us any credit for beating Cork. It was all about Cork and how could Cork lose and they have so much talent and so much behind them and they’re winning All-Ireland U21s and to lose to Tipperary is a disgrace.

“We got no credit at all for that win. We got a bit more for the Derry game but again, we were boxed off as part of the romance, ourselves and Clare.

Liam Kearns celebrates at the final whistle Liam Kearns celebrates with selectors Shane Stapleton (left) and Paul Fitzgerald. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“I told the lads that the script was written here and we were supposed to drift away off after our day in the sun.

“But we weren’t going to go with the script, we’re here to win and that was the bottom line. That’s it. We feel we’re due a bit of respect now.”

Still, Kearns suspects that the battle for hearts and minds in Tipperary will continue.

Four counties travelled to Croke Park for yesterday’s senior double-header but Tipp, despite making plenty of noise, still brought a small support relative to the rest.

When asked if the effort put in by the Tipperary footballers is respected enough within their own county, Kearns was honest with his answer.

No, it probably isn’t and I suppose that’s something we’d like to see change as well. It probably isn’t. Those players deserve respect, but I think the county are starting to become aware of how good they are now and performances like Cork, Derry and this performance surely will bring some respect to them – or bring the type of respect they should get and hopefully deserve.” 

Next up for Tipp is Tyrone or Mayo on 21 August at GAA HQ.

And Kearns reflected: “I’ll be honest, I have to say, the winners of Mayo and Tyrone will be one of the favourites for the All-Ireland.

“I suppose, it’s only a personal opinion but I feel that Tyrone are very dangerous – and that’s no disrespect to Mayo.

“I’ve no doubt Mayo will give them loads of it next weekend. 

“But let’s be honest, that’s a heavyweight clash – the winners of that will be overwhelming favourites to beat us.

“And I’m just delighted that we have three weeks to let this sink in and prepare ourselves.

“I could do with three months maybe! But three weeks is what we have and we’ll prepare as well as we can and hopefully we’ll be ready to give a good account of ourselves again.

“We’re not saying we’re going to win the All-Ireland, that’s not what we’re saying. But we are saying we’ve a decent team, we have decent footballers, and they deserve respect and credit for what they’ve done.”

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