‘A difference of opinion’ emerged between manager John Evans and the Tipperary senior football team during a camp in Co Kerry that eventually led to Evans’ resignation, County Footall Board secretary Michael Power says in his report to the Football Board Convention to be held in Thurles next Tuesay night.
Mr Power says the year commenced with the McGrath cup and wins were recorded against LIT, WIT, and UCC to reach the final against Cork. Tipperary put up a determined performance and were beaten 0-13 to 0-6.
“The McGrath cup provided 4 competitive games for us and one would have to say ideal preparation for the League”, he says.
But things didn’t go asa smoothly in the league.
“Our first game in the League was away to Roscommon. Peter Acheson was unable to travel due to personal circumstances and his loss on the day was felt. “Our next game was Antrim at home and again we lost by the only goal of the game. After the first two games, it was downhill against Wexford, Cavan and Sligo.
“The management brought the entire panel to Camp after the first two League games in Killarney. The Camp commenced in UL on Friday evening and they went on to the Castlerosse Hotel, which was the base in Killarney. The hotel is located near the Fossa GAA pitch and all the football activity took place there.
“On Saturday evening it emerged there was a difference of opinion between players and management. Things were ironed out after consultation, but it proved only temporary. John Evans resigned after the Sligo game and the remaining management took charge of the League game against Longford.
“The performance against Longford was our best League performance in the entire campaign. The game ended in a draw against the eventual Division three Champions.
“In the meantime a committee was put in place to appoint a new Senior Football management. The new manager and his team was only to be an interim appointment to the end of the Championship. The new manager selected was Peter Creedon, who had served for us at Minor and Under 21 level on previous occasions. The management was made up with Michael O’Loughlin, Physical Instructor, Gerry McGill and Tommy Toomey, statistician. The remaining backroom remained the same with the exception of Brian Burke, Joe Shiels, Alan Ward and Sean Whitney. The new management took charge for the first time in the final League game against Offaly in Clonmel. Even though, we won, we struggled after our great performance against Longford. We finished the League with three points, finished second last and were relegated.
“On behalf of the Board I would like to record our appreciation for all the efforts John Evans made on behalf of Tipperary Football. There is no doubt we are a lot better off after his period of four and a half years in Tipperary. All his successes are well documented and his contribution will be there forever. I also wish to record our thanks to Brian Burke, Joe Shiels, Alan Ward and Sean Whitney for all their efforts.
“The Senior Championship game against Kerry in Thurles was a novel one in the sense it was a curtain raiser to Tipperary versus Limerick in Senior Hurling. The team and substitutes gave it a great shot, so much so, it looked at one stage in the game that a shock was on. However, we were beaten in the end but hats off to everybody for a great performance against the ‘Masters’. Preparations continued for the qualifiers with further games against Cork and Laois and there were always the A versus B games at training. The lads on the B side have the incentive to move up into the Championship panel. This concept introduced by the management is a good one and keeps everybody on their toes.
The team had a great run in the qualifiers with wins over Offaly, Wexford and Antrim. The team had all games in Semple Stadium but home venue does not guarantee anything. The team was now seventy minutes from an All-Ireland quarter final, something Tipperary have not achieved since the qualifiers came in. Down stood in our way, who were in the All-Ireland Final two years ago, the team put up a great effort and a crucial piece of luck decided the game when a ball hit the upright and ended up in the net just on half-time. It is a long time since Tipperay had five Championship games and to win three and only lose to Kerry and Down is no mean achievement.
Mr Power also outlines the attempt to retain the All Ireland minor football title.
“The campaign started with the Munster Quarter Final away to Kerry in Tralee and eventhough we started slowly, the game was wrapped up early in the second half. Our next game was away to Cork, it was a competitive game from the word go. We were one point down at half time but it could have been three as Cork missed two easy frees. Philip Quirke scored a goal in the second half and that was the difference. Evan Comerford made a great penalty save at the end for Tipp to win on the score 1-10 to 9 pts. This meant that Tipperary had reached four out of the last five minor finals, a great achievement in its own right.
The Munster Final was played Limerick against Kerry as a curtain raiser to the senior final. Again we started slowly and Kerry went into a commanding lead, we missed goals and it looked it might not be our day. A goal each from Colman Kennedy and Tom Kirwan in the second half and a much improved performance ensured we retained our Munster Title, a feat not achieved since 1935.
The preparation for the All-Ireland Quarter Final was not as it should be. In the first week after the minor, hurlers had to prepare for their Munster Final and with ten dual players to operate without, training was only to be going through the motions. The second week County Board cancelled all minor training due to pressure on club fixtures and with two weeks to go to the Quarter Final, in reality the team had only a week to prepare for the match against Mayo.
In 1935 when we were last defending Champions it was Mayo who beat us in the Final. However, on this occasion, we were confident we would turn the tables as we had accounted for them in a challenge match earlier in the year. However, the team did not turn up on the day and struggled to perform all day. Steven O’Brien was sent off when we appeared to be coming back into the game. Mayo went on to win the game 0-19 to 1-8.
I am glad to state that the date for preparing minor teams has been brought forward February 1.
Also, I feel transport and food should be available from the 1st February as the players clubs and parents are already making sacrifices. I accept that financial cuts have to be made with income dropping but not to hit the minors in both codes as happened this year”.