On Friday of next week, 12th April, the TSDL Oscar Trayner squad will play the Defence Forces at Cooke Park Tipperary Town, kick-off 7.30pm.
This will be the first time TSDL and Defence Forces will meet in competitive action. The Defence Forces are not an organised league but their players are drawn from members of the Defence Forces playing with junior clubs throughout the country. They are a formidable outfit and should provide stern opposition. Last season they caused a major shock when beating the eventual winners, Dublin AUL, but lost out on a protest. This season they competed in a group which consisted of Cork AUL, Munster Senior League and last seasons runners-up, Kerry League. Cork AUL won the group with Defence Forces runners-up, winning one and drawing their other two games. The Defence Forces were actually drawn at home to TSDL but they play their games away and are looking forward to their visit to Tipperary.
For TSDL it has been a topsy turvy season in this competition, dogged by postponements due to bad weather and players’ withdrawals from the squad. It started brightly and a very strong TSDL team were most impressive when demolishing Kilkenny League by 4-0. Next game against Waterford League was postponed twice due to unplayable grounds, thus wasting up two week-ends. When the game was eventually played the old problem of late withdrawals saw a much weakened team travel to Waterford, but those who did turn up gave a tremendous display, shocking a highly fancied home side, coming from behind to win 2-1. Six points were enough to qualify and as Wexford were also on six points the final game between TSDL and Wexford would decide who topped the group. The game was fixed for Cooke Park Tipperary but once again the weather was spoilsport and another week-end was lost. Wexford and TSDL were prepared to toss a coin to decide winners and runnersup but other leagues objected, insisting the game must be played. The game was fixed for New Ross on Saturday 16th March and again late withdrawals were so many the TSDL travelled with another very weakened team of just 13 players which included 2 goalkeepers.. Wexford, who like most leagues nowadays take this competition very seriously, had a full squad of 20 players on the day. Wexford hammered TSDL by 4-0. The few members of TSDL management who take responsibility for entering the competition, making all arrangements and travelling to all games were so cheesed off vowed to pull the plug after this season.
The attitude towards the game against the Defence Forces could decide future participation in this competition. From an adminstration point of view it would suit not to compete as it would free up weekends and the premier league would be over now, unlike the present situation where teams are queuing up to play each other. On the other hand is that fair on those players who are proud to represent their league. The purpose of entering the competition is for the best of the TSDL to show they can hold their own against any other league (remember TSDL won this competition in 2003). No doubt TSDL best can beat any league in the country but only if all players selected make themselves available.
Managers Mick O’Brien and Pat Purcell are upbeat about the game against the Defence Forces. The winners are at home to the Inishowen League from Donegal and victory there will see a home semi-final date with either Wexford or Limerick. They are very anxious to make it through to the latter stages but to march on a fit and full squad is needed. Several key players are ruled out because of long term injuries but there is an abundance of good players in the TSDL who hopefully will make themselves available for this game, so important on several counts. The panel of players will be on the website later this week.