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'There's a couple of 90-year-olds who rang me, they were in tears. They never thought they'd see the day'

Tipperary boss David Power on the joy of their Munster final win and building on it as they take on Mayo next Sunday.

An emotional David Power after Tipperary's Munster final win.
An emotional David Power after Tipperary's Munster final win.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

DAVID POWER HAS been part of momentous Tipperary football days before.

He was there on the sideline in 2011, a packed Croke Park watching his minor side stage an upset against Dublin to claim an All-Ireland title.

Last Sunday week was a victory that carried a greater weight but with the stands empty on the day that Tipperary realised their senior ambitions, it was not until later that he began to grasp the meaning of this success.

“I’m very humbled with all the different messages we’re after getting. There’s a couple of 90-year-olds who rang me, they were in tears. They never thought they’d see the day.

“To see Tipperary winning a Munster senior football championship and for me it’s a great honour to be leading the ship in many ways, I really am overwhelmed by all the people that have made contact with us.

“Some of the phone calls and texts that I got, from all corners of the country, from players that won several All-Irelands down in Kerry, and the big satisfaction that I’m really taking from it was that it was great to win, but that it was our style of play that has really appealed to the public.

“That we played football, and that’s always been my thing, even going back to the minor team. To kick 17 points, we’re nearly going into Christmas time and I think it’s fabulous.”

There was an obvious regret that the county’s hardcore football support, small in number but highly devoted to the cause, were absent in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

“For us, for families and friends not to be there, that was really hard going,” admits Power.

“Ultimately there will come a time and a place that hopefully we can celebrate this victory. We’re a kind of a small family in many ways, there’s a core group that would be at every Tipp football match. And for the likes of them and people that kept the football flag flying during years when it was hard, when they were down in Division Four, that’s what that final was for. For them it was fabulous.”

Power has always been conscious of Tipperary’s football heritage and sought to meet those standards set decades ago.

“I would have always, since 1990, I would have been going to every All-Ireland football final and I always looked at the Roll of Honour every year and I’d be saying, my God, Tipperary have more All-Irelands than a lot a lot of counties. We’ll say a lot of strong counties, even, now.

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“I’d be always asking my father how come Tipp were very, very strong back there? I would have grown up with football in my house, the likes of Hugh Kennedy who was the former football chairman, the likes of Mick Frawley, I would have grown up with football.

micheal-power-and-his-son-david-power-celebrate Michael Power and his son David celebrate after Tipperary's Munster semi-final success. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I would have heard about the history of football back then and that’s probably what drove me on to get involved with different development squads. I always had that passion for Tipp football. For us to get back to where it was 100 years ago, last Sunday was the first step. But we’ve got many, many more steps to get back there.”

Next Sunday represents the next step, a seasoned Mayo outfit standing in their path.

“I’m not happy, I want to drive on now,” says Power.

“We have to get better in order to beat Mayo but I feel that performance is in us. I don’t want to be coming out and saying the Cork game was our perfect performance because it wasn’t. I know there is more gears in this Tipperary team.

“Croke Park won’t hold any fear for Tipperary. I think we can really grow into Croke Park and the players like playing there. We won’t fear Mayo. if they are given space with the quality of player they have we are going to be in serious trouble. I believe in this Tipperary football team that if we get a performance, that we’ll be very close to Mayo come Sunday.”

It’s taken Tipperary four years to return to this juncture and the turnover of players has not helped in Power’s view.

michael-quinlivan-with-keith-higgins Michael Quinlivan and Keith Higgins in action in the 2016 All-Ireland semi-final. Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

“The continuity of having a steady panel would be the big thing. It’s not managment’s fault because some players would have got a call from the hurling and, to be fair, the hurling is a serious big call in Tipperary.

“Then lads would have had other commitments, they would have had travel commitments. I think it really boils down to having a steady panel. You take this year, the panel I started with in January compared to the panel I have now, it’s nearly a completely different panel.

“I have four or five additions that are real, in my eyes, Division 1 quality. If we could keep this core group together over the next two/three years, I think you would see better consistency.”

On a wider level Power hopes the progress of Tipperary in this football championship will see the sport consolidated in the county.

“I see this for the future generations, that they’ll want to play football for Tipperary and that’s what I want to see out from this, that primary and secondary school children will all want to play football for Tipperary as well.

I’m not saying we’re going to overtake hurling. I’m actually a big believer that if football and hurling can work together in Tipperary that we can be a really powerful unit.

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Fintan O'Toole

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