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Dublin: 4 °C Tuesday 25 February, 2020
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'Maybe losing all those players was a blessing in disguise' — Peter Acheson

Tipperary never used the loss of key men to hurling, AFL or America as an excuse this year.

THE GAME WAS long over yesterday when the PA announcer asked Tipperary fans to leave Croke Park for a third time.

But they weren’t budging. Those die-hard Tipperary football supporters were basking in the after-glow of one of their county’s greatest ever victories. While the pitch has been off bounds for supporters since 2010, they mingled with the players in some wonderful scenes at the bottom of the Hogan Stand.

The Premier County reached their first All-Ireland semi-final in 81 years thanks to a commanding 3-13 to 1-10 win over Connacht champions Galway.

It will go down as a victory for brave, attacking football. While speaking to the press after the landmark win, midfielder Peter Acheson, a revelation in this championship, was keen to heap praise on his manager Liam Kearns.

“The manager came in and if he tried to put a defensive system in place, all out defence like the Northern teams, I don’t know if we would enjoy it,” Acheson said.

Liam Kearns with Peter Acheson Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“We dropped a man back today alight. Liam got his tactics spot on, the match-ups, the full back line and the centre back were marking certain men today and they absolutely cleaned them so it was serious stuff from them.”

This was a serious shot in the arm for football in Tipperary, so often the poor relation of the small ball code. In just one year in charge, Kearns has led the county to the last four of the All-Ireland series and defied any sort of logic.

It’s a run that’s made even more impressive when you consider the talented players who are not part of the squad, but Acheson feels it might have benefited Tipperary.

“If you put odds on us it would have been 1,000/1, 2000/1 after the lads dropped off the team. It wasn’t just the three lads but a lot more left too so we were left with a very young squad, I’m the fourth oldest player and I am only 26.

“The young fellas are just brave and go for it which suits our type of play. Jimmy Feehan and Shaughs are only 19, 20 years of age, they just drive at lads and it is brilliant to see.

“It suits our style of play, everyone stepped up to the plate, even the older lads have given that extra ten or fifteen per cent at training. We are fitter, faster, and believe in ourselves more than we ever did. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise!

Liam Silke and Peter Acheson Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I think a few of us always had it [confidence] but you need thirty lads to believe, if you don’t you won’t win anything. We are all have team talks before games and when I look around I know that all the lads believe that we can win a game. I don’t think that is going to change for the semi-final.”

A semi-final against the winners of Mayo and Tyrone will provide them with a far sterner test, with both sides putting a lot of focus on keeping things tight defensively. But that’s not something that will faze Acheson or his team-mates.

“Every team does it at this stage, we are used to it,”he continued. “Liam is going to look at it when we go home along with Brian Lacey, Tommy Toomey and the rest of the stat men, look at all the videos and they’ll give us a gameplan, I’m not sure what it is going to be but I’m sure they will have it down to a T and we will try and implement it.

“We have a lot of characters in our team, we love playing football but it is serious craic in training and the matches. We absolutely love it.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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