Tipperary senior football manager Liam Kearns was quick to assess his team’s performance following their 1-15 to 1-7 win over Waterford in Fraher Field, Dungarvan, on Sunday last.
The Kerryman, well travel-led in a footballing sense, with previous inter-county management experience at Limerick, Laois and Ros-common summed up Tipp’s win with mixed views.
Asked if he was happy with the display he said “Aspects of it, happy enough but I wouldn’t be ecstatic or anything. The first half we weren’t great, they caused us a few problems and could have had a couple of goals which would have put a different complexion on the game. They were very defensive but we had planned that we would have to be patient and in fairness we were and all our scores in the first half were from play and you would have to be happy with that.
“They put a fierce emphasis on keeping Michael Quinlivan out of the game and we kind of expected that and in fairness we got four points from our midfielders from play and we got scores from other areas as well, ‘Shocks’ (Colm O'Shaughnessy) and a couple of more came up and got scores so that was pleasing. But we switched off in the middle of the second half and I think we were already thinking of the next round when we should have kept playing which is not that great from our point of view to be honest but in fairness they kicked an awful lot of wides . Their freetaker just hadn't a good day.
“Mind you we missed a few good frees in the first half too but at least we got it together in the second half and I thought we got some real good scores in the second half and I would be happy with that side of it. But intensity, work rate, all of that, it won’t do against Cork we have to find another level than what we found out there and we only have two weeks to do that so.”
Following the reality check of a Munster Championship test, Liam Kearns was also looking for positives from the encounter with Waterford.
He added: “The plus for us was that we came out of it with no injuries, as far as we know we have no injuries. I could have played Conor Sweeney and Robbie Kiely but we held them in the hope that we can get them 100% for the next round. It’s pleasing that we didn’t have to use them either. We are happy that we have come out of this game because we have been destroyed with injuries all year and hopefully we’ll be a bit stronger and maybe the game will stand to us. I am sure Cork were in the stand somewhere watching us and I doubt they were quaking in their boots or anything” the manager obviously deflecting any pressure from his side in the build-up to the provincial semi-final in Thurles on Sunday week next.
Another positive was the re-emergence of the likes of George Hannigan and Bill Maher, absent of late from county senior football for different reasons.
He continued: “I thought George gave us a lot. Three points from play was great and in fairness George has been out for a long time. George has been out for the bones of a year with a serious groin injury. So I am delighted for him that he got back, he needs the experience and his physical presence gave us a big help around the middle and we had a lot of problems there during the league. So, yeah, George can be happy with his outing today and hopefully it will bring him on.
“Bill had a good game, probably turned over the ball a bit more than he should have but Bill played well, some of his tackling was a bit off too but for a guy who hasn’t been playing football at this level for a while I thought he did reasonably well.
Turning to the Cork game the Tipp manager said “We'll give a good account of ourselves against Cork. Really what I want now in two weeks time is that we perform to our maximum levels and see where that takes us. And if I get my best performance from my team then we'll see how far that will take us. There is no question but we are stepping up a huge level. Cork are a Division 1 team even if they were relegated, they were unlucky, they are a Division 1 team, I put them in the top 8 in the country still. Themselves and Kerry are the standard bearers here.”
Pressed for a comment on whether Steven O’Brien might still at this late juncture have a part to play in Tipperary’s football campaign in 2016, the manager was careful with his words.
“He (Steven O’Brien) is still training with the hurlers. As far as I am aware he trained with the hurlers last Tuesday night. At the end of the day he hasn’t played any football, he hasn’t kicked a ball with us at all this year. There is not a lot we can do about that. Until he is made available to the footballers we can’t use him,” concluded the manager, heading off to see will it be really possible to make the Gaelic football world quake on Sunday week when ‘The Rebels’ come to Semple.