The Manager's views on clash with Kerry

The Tipperary football manager made a name for himself with Limerick, and the manner in which they faced up to the traditional powers, and Liam Kearns is happy to find that this Tipperary squad has similarities with that Limerick team.

The amount of leaders Tipperary has, as well as those that are future leaders , said Kearns , reminded him of the Limerick squad he guided to a level which saw them compete with the traditional Munster kingpins .

“There were some good leaders in the my dressing room in Limerick and there are some good leaders in my dressing room in Tipperary. They go out and don't just talk the talk, they walk the walk.

"We have leaders in nearly every line, Ciaran McDonald, Alan Campbell, Robbie Kiely, Bill Maher, Peter Acheson, George Hannigan, Michael Quinlivan and Brian Fox, they are all strong solid characters and we had that in the Limerick team". Kearns said.

He sees a spirit and a closeness in this Tipperary squad which had also been a feature of those Limerick teams and he wanted Tipperary not only to compete with Cork and Kerry this year but every year so that they can get closer to them.

“The atmosphere in the camp is very positive. There is a buzz around the camp and of course the injuries clearing up has helped big time.

“They know they put in a serious performance against Cork and the confidence that comes with that helps.”

“They have bonded now, you can't quantify what a win like that and celebrating it together does for the tightness of the group .They were in Clonmel (after beating Cork) and it was the first time the whole squad turned up in Clonmel. Normally they go to the south or the north or their various areas and you'd have a few of them here, there and everywhere but every one to a man turned up in the one place in Clonmel after the game. That it itself is excellent.

“First of all we had to get the celebrations out of the way. It was tough for them, I promise you. We allowed them to celebrate because they were entitled to celebrate that. I wouldn't be one of the managers who advocates that you don't celebrate anything, that you just move on and it's all about recovery.

“I have studied the science side of it in a degree but I still believe in the old way as well that you have got to bond and have a spirit and what's the point of doing it if you can't enjoy it and can't celebrate it. My players celebrated it but on their first night back it was a tough enough experience for them but they had to pay the price for that.

“We have had three or four good sessions since and are concentrating on the next step".

He said the squad had reached a Munster Final ahead of their time and that they had already hit targets set for them.

“These boys have got to a Munster Final ahead of time. The long term goals coming into this were promotion to Division 2, beat one of the top two teams in Munster, get to a Munster Final and obviously winning a Munster Final. We've achieved two of them already, we nearly achieved a third as well.

“We'll have to look at the long term goals again after this year but they are ahead of schedule in what they have done this year and in the circumstances, I think that is the most pleasing thing for that group and for the management, having lost so many players we still have come up to the standard we have come up to and are still in a Munster Final.

“Whatever happens on Sunday we have got to get back to a Munster Final next year or the year after. It can't be fourteen years before you get back to another Munster Final again because you are just not making progress if that is the case.

“Then you can start to say that you are not going away and are consistently there,” he maintained.

He added -“As Dara O'Se said, you don't want then getting notions about yourself. That's the reality, if they beat us well on Sunday and we don't come back to a Munster Final for another ten or fifteen years, that is what they have done".

The victory over Cork gives them a seeded draw next year and gives them the opportunity to be in with a chance of getting back into another Munster Final without there being a long gap.

“The only way that works is if Kerry and Cork are on the other side of the draw playing each other and we get Clare, Waterford or Limerick and then there is an opportunity for one of those four teams to go straight through to a Munster Final to play Kerry or Cork.

“There is a couple of ways you can look at it. The Waterford game certainly stood to us when we played Cork. Cork came in cold to us and we beat them.

“In another way if you do get to a Munster Final, Cork or Kerry are going to be really tested by playing each other in a semi-final and then you have got to try and beat them in a final. It is a double-edged sword.

“If Cork get a game against Waterford and come into us with no game, as it was this year, then we are at the disadvantage. A championship game, no matter who it is against, is always going to be worth a lot.

He acknowledged he had a conversation with former Tipp manager and fellow Kerryman Johnn Evans prior to taking over the Tipp post - he worked under Evans as a forwards coach with Roscommon

“I had a conversation or two with John. He had worked with some of the players but not some of the younger players but he did give me a general idea of how football and hurling worked in Tipperary but you can't beat your own experience.

“When I took the job I knew Colin O'Riordan was gone to Australia but I thought I had everyone else but that wasn't the reality when I came into it".

The tipperary management made sure Cork heard the message loud and clear about all those absentees and how it was affecting their prospects prior to the Cork game.

“We probably played that up ourselves as well. We were stating the facts at the same time because for the Waterford game we had 21 players who played in the corresponding fixture last year and we had eight of those playing a year later. We weren't distorting the facts, there were 13 of them missing, two of them were available but they were injured.

“I can't speak for Cork, maybe they were a little complacent and the fact they didn't have a championship match, maybe they saw us against Waterford and didn't think we were good.

“You don't know at the end of the day what ingedients make up for a shock, said the manager who would dearly love to pull off another one on Sunday.

“ I don't think it was ever done that one of the minnows beat Cork and Kerry in the same year to win a Munster title”.

Nobody gave his team a chance against Cork and look what happened. They have even less of a chance against Kerry on Sunday but Kearns, the players and all of Tipperary will be hoping the numerous components needed to make up a shock might align again on Sunday.