Tipp footballer Hugh Coghlan says playing Kerry is a learning curve

Holding onto players who are successful at underage level is a problem for counties such as Tipperary, Hugh Coghlan admits.

Holding onto players who are successful at underage level is a problem for counties such as Tipperary, Hugh Coghlan admits.

As Tipperary get set to face Kerry in the Munster Senior Football Championship quarter-final at Semple Stadium, the Portlaoise player says “the whole key is how many are going to stay playing; how many are going to stay committing.

I played with a minor team that beat Kerry in the first round and there are only two left on the senior panel now – an awful lot of lads just fall away, whereas the top tier counties have everyone rowing in together and driving on for the panel. We just find it that bit more difficult to get a squad of 30 who are committed for an entire campaign rather than just a few months.

It’s down to success – once there is a bandwagon you will have more people on board for the journey and that’s a task that we are challenged with at the moment. The future can be bright for Tipp football – there is no doubt about it, considering the success that there has been over the last few years.

Massive credit is due to the County Board too because there is nothing ever wanted – the standards are the same as the hurlers and if we continue to go as we have been the success will come, we hope”.

Tipp are rank outsiders to upset the odds on Sunday and says that the players are used to facing Kerry so early in the campaign as this is the third year in-a-row they’ve been drawn against The Kingdom in the first round.

“We are after having a horrendous league campaign, in fairness. We are back down to the dumps of Division Four. We are trying to turn it around and get going for the game. We are looking forward to it.

It can be very hard to put the brakes on as we can see – we are back down from (divisions) two to four (in the National League) already. We are moving into the championship now and we feel that we can stop the rot. We have freshened things up and we have a few new things put together with hopefully a new direction.

All the lads have enjoyed Peter (Creedon) coming in as manager. He has brought a new sense of freshness and a new coaching to the whole set-up. It is something extra for us to think about and he is definitely something fresh and positive. With a bit of luck he could be the new icon for the championship for us.

We have had a lot of work to do as a panel and in the initial stages we were playing a short game. We are progressing on now to playing a more direct game and trying a mixture of both styles alongside each other. In the last few games we have been trying to get it into the danger area as quickly as possible, but it is a work in progress and is not going to change overnight. Hopefully we are going in the right direction”.

Facing Kerry is a daunting prospect for any team, especially a side that has been relegated to Division Four of the National League, but Hugh Coghlan prefers to look on the bright side of such a difficult draw.

“We were considered to have done well enough over the last two years against Kerry but they still beat us by 12 points each year. If we are not learning from those games we are not going to learn from any game. Anybody who is serious about their football and dedicated towards it wants to be playing against the biggest and best.

It’s not ideal to be playing against them in the first round of the championship but that’s just the way it is. We have to prepare as well as we can and see what comes on the day and hope that is brings us on for the championship. A good run is something we have not had for the last few years. I don’t think I have had a championship campaign in any of the years I have been here and that is frustrating because you ask any player and they will tell you they want to be playing summer football. That’s where the lights are and where the football is good”..