Tipperary under 21 football coach Michael O’Loughlin, took time at at the recent press evening in Thurles to give his views writes Jeddy Walsh.
Asked about the new regime of under 21’s training with the seniors and did he find it a help?
“Great credit has to go to Tim Floyd and the County Board. He wrote in his report last December (at Convention) that the way forward for football was to train both teams together.
“We were approached regards this and we knew looking at the senior panel that we were going to have 10-12 lads involved and I knew by being involved with the under 21’s before with John Evans that we trained on the same night.
“Two weeks before we played Cork (in under 21), the senior team that played Sligo (in NFL Division 3) had sevenn under 21s. Going in to the last day of the league there were four teams (in danger of) relegation. It was a high standard in Division 3, a tough division. The likes of Ian Fahey took the knocks and got on with it.
“It’s huge for them and is the way forward for teams to train together when there is an overlap. You have got to look after the welfare of players as well, when you train Tuesday, Thursday and again at the weekend but if you are under 21 you could train Friday as well. We were struggling with 15-18 players for Hastings Cup with college commitments etc.. so it’s been huge.
“It has upped the standard at training, there have been nights where the under 21’s play the seniors, everything is given, the lads take the knocks and get on with it. They (seniors) see the likes of Jason Lonergan, Ian Fahey, Colm O’Shaughnessy coming along and thinking this is my place under threat.
“It brings a competitive element to training, you hear about Kerry football and the A v B games at training, Kilkenny talk about it in hurling and you can see that, it brings on guys. The last night the seniors took on the under 21’s you could see the seniors getting annoyed with each other as they felt they weren’t performing.
“It’s the way to go. It’s a template to follow, even at senior and under 21 hurling. If you’re serious about bringing on players because that’s where you find out their level and whether they can compete or not,” Michael stated
And turning then to the All-Ireland final in Parnell Park against Tyrone on Saturday next, the Tipp coach said..
“We only got to see a half an hour of the Roscommon game after beating Dublin, they look to play a very defensive game, it seems, they play with two sweepers. They were driven, they used the underdog tag, they were given no hope against Roscommon.
“By all accounts they have been together since last August.
“Tyrone will always fancy themselves to win an All Ireland Final. 2001 was the last time they won it, they will come down with a tradition and a huge crowd.
“I would expect the game to be different. Cork were expected to be more open than against Clare who tried to keep it tight and play more men behind the ball. Dublin, we felt would bring a few more players back as well and we expect the same from Tyrone, they’ll play a more defensive game.
“When we played Fermanagh and Armagh in the league this year, the lads experienced that but the Armagh game we were unlucky not to get something out of it, the Fermanagh game we just didn’t perform on the day. In the league you’ll always have a blip and that was unfortunately the day,” concluded the Tipperary coach.