The whole gamut of sporting emotion for Tipp’s manager and players was evident in the aftermath of last Saturday’s championship win over Laois.
There was the obvious unbridled joy of having beaten a well-fancied Division 2 side Laois on their home patch; there was undoubted relief of having seen a 10 point lead evaporated to parity and restored again in a fantastic finale; there was an immense pride restored for the county’s faithful football fraternity; and there was hope that perhaps this 2014 championship story might yet have another happy chapter still to come.
Strangely, more so than the previous week at home v Longford, the Tipp crowd packed in to Portlaoise good and early. They weren’t to be disappointed as the Premier side put on a magnificent display, especially in the first half, at the conclusion of which they received a standing ovation leaving the field.
The 10 points 2-10 to 1-3 advantage was to be wiped clean by the 62nd minute and the day looked lost. But in a rousing rally in end to end football combat, the large crowd was kept on the edge of their seats as Peter Creedon’s side resurrected a victory from the ashes.
All in all it left the Tipp supporters drained, let alone the players and the backroom team.
Peter Acheson, who on Saturday started at wing-forward, never doubted Tipperary even when Laois levelled late on.
He said “I looked around to the lads in the team and I knew we had it in us. We knew we had it. No one thought it was lost. The last score at the end sealed it for us.”
When the Moyle Rovers star was asked about how did it now feel being in the last 12?
“Brilliant. Twice in the last three years we’ve got to the last 12. Three years ago we had the best team in the country in the last 12 and that hurt us. We are not happy with the last 12. We want to go last eight. We have another match in two weeks time and we’re going to have another lash at that,” he said.
Regarding the first half and was it the best display ever?
“Ah yeah. But our first 10 minutes were poor. At half-time it was said that we were brilliant for 20 minutes but what about the other 15. We have to be good for 70 minutes and not 20 or 25. The team we are going to be playing next are brilliant so we will have to be good for 75-80 minutes. We will have to step it up for the next game,” added the versatile Acheson.
Michael Quinlivan was very pleased with the team’s overall performance, deflecting somewhat from his own best game of the year display.
The Clonmel Commercials man who started at wing-forward on Saturday, when asked on his side’s style of play on the day said...
“We are well able to mix it up. Conor inside is absolutely flying it this year, he was absolutely super again today. We are well capable of mixing it up, running it through, letting it in. We have a few different aspects to our game which is obviously great going forward,” he said.
But Tipp still had to dog-out a result in the end?
“Yes. Laois are an excellent side who have been around at this level for 10-12 years at this stage. You see what they did against Dublin for 55-60 minutes the last day. So we always knew we were going to have a tough ask in Portlaoise. Regardless of how far you get in front Laois are so experienced. The last two qualifier wins (v Fermanagh and Wexford) were won by a single point so for us to be able to dog it out at the end, to show a bit of true grit, was excellent,” added MQ.
And on his new role in the half -forward line today?
“Peter said to me during the week I’d be playing out on the wing. I dont’t really find it makes a difference, I play out there with the club anyway. But all six forwards are well able to rotate under this system. We never spend long periods in the one sector of the field and that’s an area we’ve improved upon seriously over the last couple of years. Regardless of who plays in any of the six positions we are always a threat which is great going forward as well,” added Quinlivan who earlier this year captured a Sigerson Cup medal with UCC to add to his minor All-Ireland medal from 2011.
Finally on the Tipperary support on the day which seemed more vociferous than it has been in quite a while...
“The roar when we went in at half-time was spine-tingling to be honest. Tipperary support is always great. They have been absolutely superb at the football this year and we probably repaid a small bit of that today. Hopefully they’ll be the same the next day,” he concluded.