While the departures of key players Barry Grogan and Brian Jones was “a real kick in the teeth” at the beginning it will give other players the opportunity the shine, according to George Hannigan, as the Tipperary footballers prepare to face Kerry in the Munster Senior Football Championship quarter-final at Semple Stadium on Sunday (2pm).
Both Grogan and Jones have gone abroad and their absence make Tipperary’s task even more difficult on Sunday as they take on last year’s defeated All-Ireland finalists.
“Barry and Brian were two very important players for us. In the last few years we have had setbacks but you just have to get on with it, play a few challenge matches and the like. We have been putting up good scores and the positive thing is that other lads are starting to emerge as key forwards as opposed to looking to Barry all the time to dig us out of a hole. It could have a long-term benefit for us in that two or three more lads might step up the plate, because it is obvious that Barry has been our main scorer”, stated Hannigan.
The players have also had to become accustomed to a new management team, after John Evans stepped down towards the end of the National League campaign and was replaced by former county minor and U-21 manager Peter Creedon.
However most of the panel are well aware of Creedon’s approach.
“70% of the squad would have come through his hands as minors and from that perspective we know his philosophy on football and how he works and trains. There was no big introduction on the first night back training, it was just taking up where we left off. Everything has been positive and hopefully we will reap the benefits”, said Hannigan.
Regarding John Evans’ departure, he said “it was a surprise when it happened. He felt that he had brought us as far as he could. If you feel that as a manager there’s no point in staying on. It’s the same as a player, if you feel that you cannot function anymore then it’s time to move on”.
Tipp could hardly have been handed a tougher assignment for the start of the championship and the Shannon Rovers player identifies the Kerry attack as their lethal weapon.
“Their movement and the calibre of forwards they have is their main strength. You can get your best man-marker to match their best player but on the day somebody else who was not predicted comes up with the scores for them. It’s the speed they play the games at, how they work the ball up the field so quickly – that’s their biggest threat”.
However he’s not without hope heading into the game and draws inspiration from the performances of the County Minor team.
“It’s high time that we stepped up to the plate and did what they are doing because to go down to Kerry and Cork and beat them is fantastic. We have Conor O’Sullivan and Michael Quinlivan from the minors last year and a few of the U-21s from a few years ago that won the Munster Final – I don’t think there is any fear of Kerry in our team, it’s just about getting a bit of luck on the day and trying to get over them. It’s going to happen sometime and hopefully this could be the year we get a run in the Munster championship or All-Ireland series”.