Power believes Tipperary equipped for big role on national stage

Premier boss says new Munster kingpins will go into Mayo clash with real confidence

David Power: “I think we have to use the Munster final as a kind of a stepping stone. These lads are certainly not happy with just winning a Munster final.” Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

David Power: “I think we have to use the Munster final as a kind of a stepping stone. These lads are certainly not happy with just winning a Munster final.” Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

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David Power is, on the face of it, in an excellent position. The week before last his Tipperary football team claimed the county’s first Munster title since 1935.

Their achievement came a little under the cover of darkness, as there had been such publicity about the centenary of both the county’s last All-Ireland and its role in Bloody Sunday, together with the commemorative jerseys that the prospect of a provincial championship sat on the back burner.

But they won, beating Cork, the last-minute slayers of Kerry in the semi-final and now head for Croke Park next Sunday to face Mayo in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Tipp fit into the Clare and Leitrim category of seldom and wonderful provincial champions but on another level the current cohort have All-Ireland medals at minor having overcome both Dublin and their manager Dessie Farrell in the 2011 final.

Before Power, many of the players were in a senior All-Ireland semi-final, also against Mayo just four years ago and performed respectably. They haven’t just fallen out of Division Three through some rupture in the time-space continuum.

“I think I said it before the Munster final that we are kind of a team that gets better with better opposition,” he says. “We have some very good players and it was actually incredible – I couldn’t get over the odds going into the Munster final.”

He is also thankful to have been made to wait before getting the senior role with the county and to have had the experience of managing Wexford which, although not a resounding success, was, he feels, vital to his formation.

“I was always eager to get the Tipp senior job sooner but looking back on it I am delighted I didn’t because I learned so much in Wexford in terms of putting together a really good backroom team. I am a way better manager for having been in Wexford for those two years.”

As a child he went to All-Ireland football finals with his father, wondering why Tipperary had such a presence in the game during the first 50 years of the GAA.

“Since 1990, I would have been going to every All-Ireland football final and I’d be always asking my father how come Tipp were very, very strong back then. For me, and I would have grown up with football in my house, the likes of Hugh Kennedy who was the former football chairman, the likes of Mick Frawley, I would have grown up with football, football . . .

Development squads

“I would have heard about the history of football back then and that’s probably what drove me on to get involved with different development squads. I always had that passion for Tipp football.”

The planets have aligned in terms of his playing panel. Pandemic and the postponed championship ensured that 2016 All Star Michael Quinlivan couldn’t travel the world and became available. Colin O’Riordan, now a regular with the Sydney Swans in the AFL, found that the championship coincided with his off season.

Captain, Conor Sweeney is right in line for an All Star.

Power speaks highly of all his players. Take Kevin Fahey in the Munster final, on a yellow card and having been put on notice by the referee that he has no room for manoeuvre left.

“He came over to me,” says the manager, “after the second water break and he says, ‘Davy, I think you’d better take me off. I’m on my last warning.’ He was on that yellow card and he was at centre-back.

“For me it just showed me how much of a team player he was as well. If it was about himself he wouldn’t have said that. It was tough taking off a fella that was playing so bloody well but we couldn’t take that risk, we couldn’t go down to 14 men because that ultimately would give Cork that kind of momentum to get back into the game.”

That achievement is not the limit of their ambition.

“I think we have to use the Munster final as a kind of a stepping stone. These lads are certainly not happy with just winning a Munster final, we’re looking towards the Mayo game and I think we’re going to be going in with really great confidence.”

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