Tipperary footballer Alan Campbell claims the ball ahead of Galway's Shane Walsh Tommy Grealy/INPHO
Last Four Force

'It was nothing like I've felt before, so surreal' - Tipp's day of football glory

Tipperary defender Alan Campbell reflects on a brilliant Croke Park day.

THE LANDMARK DAYS keep coming for Tipperary football in 2016.

A first Munster championship win over Cork in 72 years back in June. A first Munster final in 14 years when they headed to Killarney in early July.

Last Saturday they crashed through the last 12 barrier by prevailing over Derry, booked an All-Ireland quarter-final spot for the first time in the modern qualifier era.

And now they enter the All-Ireland last four stage for the first time in 81 years, dismissing Galway in style this afternoon with a victory that sparked scenes of wild jubilation in Croke Park.

“It was nothing like I’ve felt before,” admitted Tipperary defender Alan Campbell.

“So surreal. Tipp football never really gets the support. We all know the fans on a first name basis, only a hundred or so, and most of them are our family.

“It was just a special feeling. We waited a few minutes after the game. I just sat back and looked into the crowd. What a feeling.

“Hopefully that crowd might double the next day and help us get over the line. When you hear the Tipp fans chanting, it does drive you on and give you that extra motivation.”

Conor Sweeney and Martin Dunne celebrate at the end of the match Conor Sweeney and Martin Dunne celebrate Tipp's victory Tommy Grealy / INPHO Tommy Grealy / INPHO / INPHO

At the outset of 2016, the Tipperary squad set targets for themselves. Now their range of their ambitions has been extended.

“It’s unbelievable, at the start of the season, you couldn’t have imagined this,” states Campbell.

“Our goals were the quarter-final and Munster final. We achieved the both of them and we said when we saw the draw, why not go a step further.

“And now again, why not? We’ve Tyrone or Mayo in the semi-final so looking at the season so far, I think they’re beatable. Why not go to an All-Ireland final and keep going? It’s the year of the underdog.”

Brian Fox celebrates Brian Fox celebrates with his Tipp football teammates Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

A measure of their progress is the identity of their opponents today. In 2013 and 2014, it was Galway who dumped Tipperary out at the qualifier stage.

“We certainly knew that we owed them one because they’d beaten us twice,” admits Campbell.

“But in fairness I think they were a step above us the last two times. It was only four or five points but we got a few late goals the last time we played them. We weren’t really at the races each day. We’d to redeem ourselves and we proved that.”

Tipperary’s defence shut down the space available to Galway today and reduced the high scoring totals they had been leaking.

At the other end, their star marksmen Michael Quinlivan and Conor Sweeney again pointed the way with a combined haul of 3-6.

“There’s been a lot of criticism that we’ve been conceding too much but we play to our strengths and we have our two forwards,” states Campbell.

“We want to support them, drive forward and we know we can put up a high score. We know we can outscore other sides with forwards like Michael (Quinlivan) and Conor (Sweeney).

“They proved it against Derry and they proved it again today. We rely on them and hopefully we’ll do it again the next day.”

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