Tipp footballers boosted by return of Commercials players for trip to Westmeath

National Football League Division 3

After a three week break
Tipperary senior footballers
resume their National Football League Division 3 campaign on Sunday next with a tough away tie against Westmeath at Cusack Park, Mullingar (throw-in at 2 pm).

Following an away draw in Kilmallock against Limerick and a home win two weeks ago in Sean Treacy Park, Tipperary Town, Liam Kearns’ side will be hoping to continue this promising run with a result against Westmeath.

Long-standing Tipperary goalkeeper Paul Fitzgerald, now a selector with the Tipp team, sees Sunday’s game as a “big ask” for Tipperary considering that just a few short seasons ago the midlanders were competing in Division 1.

“We are reasonably happy with our start to this year’s League and at the beginning of it would have been happy to take three points from our opening two games. I suppose we could have won the opener against Limerick in Kilmallock but we were happy with the draw in the end. It was a typical opening league encounter, very competitive all through but it was played on a terrible pitch. I thought we did well considering we were without the Commercials players and also had a few new lads on board. We were behind late on and showed great character to come back. Perhaps a little lack of experience cost us the win in the end.

“Against Clare we put in a hard-working display in better conditions. Once again I thought the team showed great character after Clare got their late goal in responding quickly. The new lads again did well and in the absence of the Commercials contingent they took their opportunities well and are growing into it.”

“We are glad to have a near fullsquad for Mullingar. We have all the Clonmel boys back, Michael Quinlivan, Jason Lonergan, Ian and Kevin Fahey, Donal Lynch and that will give us options. George (Hannigan) and Ger (Mulhaire) sadly are still out through injury. But the added experience of having a full squad is a big big boost to us going in to Sunday's game.”

The Fethard man went on to say “This is a ‘big ask’ for us to go to Mullingar. A couple of seasons ago they were in the top flight. And having lost their first two games they will be pushing hard for the win to get back into the division. We will have to be at our very best to compete. Also they have star forward John Heslin back in action. He was man of the match in UCD's Sigerson Cup final win last weekend and he will be hopping off the ground. He is their danger man and will take some watching. Not alone was he outstanding in the final but he was their star forward all through.”

The Lakesiders are managed by Tom Cribben who led them to a Leinster final last year against Dublin, which included a rare semi-final win over arch-rivals Meath in a game in which young the Westmeath side displayed great promise.

Tipperary, under new manager Liam Kearns, have Paul Fitzgerald, Shane Stapleton and Tommy Toomey as selectors for 2016.