It’s a measure of how far the Tipperary Minor Footballers have come in the last two years that they’re 15/8 second favourites behind Dublin (7/4) to retain their All-Ireland Minor Football title.
Fresh from beating Kerry in the Munster Final, a win that wrapped up a second successive provincial championship, the Tipp U-18s will embark upon their All-Ireland campaign on this Saturday when they face defeated Connacht finalists Mayo in the quarter-final at Croke Park.
The game starts at 3pm and will be the first part of a triple header at GAA headquarters, to be followed by the All-Ireland Senior quarter-finals between Mayo and Down at 5pm and Dublin and Laois at 7pm.
Tipp manager David Power is confident that his side can progress to the last four but acknowledges that they’ll face a tough test from Mayo.
“We’re thrilled and delighted to be back in Croke Park and have the experience of having gone through the process of playing there last year. But Mayo will have a big following, with their seniors also in action on Saturday, so we won’t have it easy”, he says.
According to Paddy Power bookmakers, Tipp are 7/2-on to advance to the semi-finals. Mayo are 10/3 while the draw is 15/2.
However David Power doesn’t believe that the favourites tag will weigh too heavily on his players. “We’re getting used to it, to be honest. We’ve been favourites in every match this year and we’re treating the quarter-final as just another game”.
According to the manager the players are in good shape and since the Munster Final they’ve played the Tipp seniors and Cork club Eire Og in challenges. The players have also been in action with their clubs while others have been involved with the Tipp Minor Hurlers who also won the Munster Championship.
The panel has no major injury worries, and although captain Dylan Fitzelle has a back injury picked up while on duty with his club Cashel he’s expected to be fit.
David Power said that last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final, when Tipp beat Meath, was the most nervous the team had been all year. However with the experience of having won the Munster and All-Ireland championships last year, as well as beating Kerry twice and Cork in this year’s championship, he’s hoping that nerves won’t be a factor for his team this weekend.
The referee will be Fergal Barry of Kildare and if necessary extra time will be played.