Last year's Tipp captain Peter Acheson in action in the All-Ireland semi-final against Mayo. Diarmuid Vaughan giving chase.
PETER ACHESON had the proud honour just twelve short months ago of leading Tipperary to that seismic shock of defeating Cork in the Munster Senior Football Championship semi-final on a never-to-be-forgotten day at Semple Stadium. The Moyle Rovers stalwart, the first man in 72 years to lead the Premier County to football success over ‘The Rebels’ is now domiciled in Dubai, but kindly took time out to give us his views on the repeat game on Saturday next and an insight into his new life in the Middle East.
I began by asking Peter about his exciting new job and life in Dubai and how he is settling in ...
“Life is going well out here, Roisin and I are loving it.
“When I first came out I was actually working for Kentz, a former Clonmel company. After three months (last December) I was offered an operations managers position with a water engineering company called Hydroserv and that is going brilliantly.
Everyday life consists of working (during the week) with GAA or soccer training a few times a week. There’s plenty to do here in Dubai at weekends. It’s an unbelievable city and I’d recommend it to everyone. Roisin’s aunt, Brid Hickey originally from Clonmel (and her husband) have been a big help to us settling in. The city prides its self on having the best of everything and it had the luxury of copying many traits of well known cities due to it being a relativity new city. It’s sunny 24/7 which helps too!
There’s also some other familiar Clonmel faces around which is great. The GAA club and soccer club have been a great way to meet people and the standard is quite high. I ran into Robbie Costigan from Cahir, a former captain of mine in my early days with Tipp at a few of the GAA tournaments and I’ll be playing against him later this year. He plays for the Abu Dhabi team and he’s flying fit as ever.”
And what do you miss...
“I suppose what I miss about home most is family and friends. It’s makes you more appreciative of those things when you’re further away. I also miss the odd curry chip from Lyons and a Chinese from ‘The Emperor’ but sure you can’t have everything,” joked Peter.
Turning to matters football I enquired as to what Peter thought of Tipp’s progress in the league this year and was he keeping an eye on them...
“Yeah of course I’m keeping an eye on the lads and their progress. I’ve no doubt Liam’s (Kearns) eyes would have been fully focused on the championship and rightly so but it’s a plus that they managed to secure Division 2 football for next year and who knows the benefits that may produce for the squad over the coming years.
“I especially loved the way the lads went about it. I think this squad works best when the chips are down and their backs are against the wall. They showed what they were made of by beating Armagh and showed their class in the final against Louth.
“Winning a medal in Croke Park is always an achievement and I think the more we are playing there the better because with the talent the squad has I’ve a feeling we’ll be there on a more regular basis,” he added.
Peter Acheson (Moyle Rovers) under pressure from Eamonn Hanrahan (Clonmel Commercials)
On the new additions to the panel this year...
“Yeah it’s great to see the squad being strengthened this year along with two club mates of mine Dee Foley and Liam Boland. The two lads are serious footballers. Dee was unlucky with his setback earlier in the year. I heard he was flying up in Thurles and ended up in hospital for a stint which was tough. No doubt he’s back flying around the place as usual and his speed is exactly what the squad needs. I heard Liam Boland is showing the county the ability that he has had for a long time now and he’ll be a major addition this year,” added Peter.
What is the preparation like this week inside the camp in the run up to the big game...
“I suppose this week will be the same as ever. The manager will be going through every detail for this game but will also be keeping the lads quite relaxed and I’m sure having some fun in between. Liam and his backroom staff (too many to mention) are absolutely top notch and a very professional outfit but also make the whole experience enjoyable which is very important I believe.”
Who will Tipp be looking towards on the field to lead and shine if we are to match Cork again this year...
“It’s hard to name who our key men are, I think everyone has to perform in order to beat teams like Cork. Of course you are going to need those three or four players to have that exceptional game but we can’t be counting on Sweeney, Mikey, Foxy, Kiely or whoever else to win the game for us. Everyone will have to have the mindset that they will be the one that makes the difference,” said Peter, who won an All-Star nomination at midfield in 2016.
What was that experience like last year when Tipp got the measure of Cork for the first time since 1944...
“Last year was unforgettable. Beating Cork was massive for Tipperary football. I think there were small doubts in some players heads as to how talented the squad was and that win gave us the belief to stride forward.
“The Munster final was a big disappointment last year we felt we left ourselves down and I know that’s still in the back of the players’ minds. I am sure that will give them an extra little bit of hunger to get back there again this year.
“The Derry game summed us up best I think. We should have been well ahead before they got that goal in the last ten minutes. Finding themselves behind with such little time remaining would have seen many teams throw in the towel. But everyone stood up to be counted right then.
“That win, I think it gave us tremendous belief going into the quarter-final against Galway. The Galway game was just one of those days when people saw exactly what we could do and I’ll never forget the scenes after the game. Our small group of supporters all together with the team, the way it should be.
“I feel that a few things went against us in the Mayo semi-final. If you watch the game back closely we weren’t too far away. Robbie (Kiely) was harshly black carded and was a massive loss. Their first goal came from a small mistake and their second goal was quite fortuitous. But look these are the small things that you need to go your way.
Peter Acheson (Moyle Rovers) in action against Loughmore/Castleiney.
How can Tipperary lose such quality footballers as Colin O’Riordan, Steven O’Brien, Seamus Kennedy and now yourself, and still survive...
“The likes of Colin, Seamus and Stevie don’t come around too often. A good majority of counties wouldn’t survive without players as good as these guys. But it opened the door for other players last year who would not have had the opportunity. And these new players did not disappoint.
“Yes I’m also gone this year but again there will be someone to take my place and I’m sure the team will be as strong as ever.
“I’ve mentioned it before that Liam and the other management never used it as an excuse last year and that seeped down through the squad and made it stronger,” added Peter.
And your views now of this Cork team after the recent fright against Waterford...
“Look Cork are Cork. If you look through their squad it’s full of players who won numerous under 21 Munster medals and played in All-Ireland finals. Players like that don’t just lose their talent overnight.
“Everyone says the Waterford game was a shock to everyone but I think that shows a lack of respect towards that Waterford team. Playing Waterford down in Dungarvan is a very tough encounter. They have plenty of ability and obviously had a plan in place to try to overturn Cork.
“I don’t think Tipp will think the Cork game will be any easier after seeing them last week. If anything I’m sure they are ready for a reaction from Cork. But the Tipp team are a better footballing side and I’m sure we’ll see that on Saturday.”
How do you feel now that the game approaches...
“Of course I’m missing playing both club and county football and I’m sure this Saturday will be a tough day for me. If I could have the best of both worlds I’d love it but life is not that simple. It’s hard to explain the euphoria of playing competitive games and I miss that. I also miss the training funnily enough, the whole set-up that the team has is brilliant and there’s many characters in the squad, management and backroom team,” said Peter.
Finally, the question all Tipp football fans want to ask...
Whether I’ll play for Tipp or Moyle Rovers again is a tough one. Of course I’d love to but we’ll have to see what happens. I don’t see myself going home for a few more years due to work going so well out here. It depends what age I am (27 now) when I get back, etc., but we'll have to wait and see,” he concluded.
Moyle Rovers' Craig Condon in action against Gerry Cronin of Ardfinnan. Peter Acheson jokingly refers to Chuckie as one of the messers back at the Monroe club along with Shane Foley and Sean Keating (see below).
10 QUICKFIRE QUESTIONS TO FINISH
Most memorable game: U-21 Munster final against Kerry 2010
Greatest honour in sport: Captaining Tipperary football
Greatest disappointment: Munster final 2016 or County final 2015
Favourite venue: Croke Park
Most difficult player you came up against:
Nationally - Tomas O Sé (Kerry)/Lee Keegan (Mayo)
Tipperary - Tough one Ciaran McDonald was just a beast of a man and I didn't fancy him following me around the training pitch in Thurles. And Mikey Q is just gifted
Biggest messers about the county and club:
In the Tipperary camp, either Conor Sweeney/Philly Austin
In Moyle Rovers - Chuckie Condon/Shane Foley/Sean Keating
What you miss most about the GAA: Big games
What you don't miss at all: Missing out on events/holidays etc
Who do you think will win the All-Ireland football: If Tipp don’t win it... I'd have to be boring and say Dublin
Who do you think will win the Tipperary Senior Football Championship this year: Moyle Rovers