Tipperary boss David Power admits to challenging times after reversal of fortune

Division Four team-by-team guide ahead of the start of the league campaign

Tipperary manager David Power admits that things have been  extremely challenging for the side after the highs of wining the Munster championship to relegation to Division Four in the league. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Tipperary manager David Power admits that things have been extremely challenging for the side after the highs of wining the Munster championship to relegation to Division Four in the league. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

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David Power sustained a dramatic reversal of fortune last year. In the space of seven months his Tipperary team went from contesting an All-Ireland semi-final as Munster champions to relegation into Division Four, swiftly followed by Kerry removing their provincial title.

How does he approach the motivation of players for a season in the basement division?

“I suppose to answer that initially, we didn’t want to be in Division Four. We were looking at Division Two being honest with you last year but that didn’t work out.

“We’ve got a good group in training at this moment. The big positive to being in Division Four is that we can probably look at a couple of new players at that level and see if we can create a bit of depth in our panel.”

Power has been in charge of so much positivity for Tipperary football – All-Ireland minor title, Munster under-21 and senior championships – that this demoralising slide has to be extremely challenging.

The mood music is downbeat. Two key players are unavailable this year: Brian Fox has retired and All Star Michael Quinlivan’s taking a year out.

He acknowledges that the high-octane fuel of the 2020 success has all but burned out, as last year was detained in lockdown until the summer – long after the feelgood effect of the Munster title had worn off.

“I think we were all looking forward to an early start in 2021 and I think we would have used the confidence of having won the Munster championship. Then things unfortunately went backwards with Covid.”

It was a whole chapter of disappointment, though, that went beyond simply having no matches for nearly six months. It meant that all the perks of their historic status – first Munster senior title in 85 years – were suspended.

“The biggest disappointment of all is that when we did have the cup, we could not bring it around to the schools. I think that would have been a big, big thing for Tipperary to promote the game.”

Players have yet to get their medals because the celebration evening organised last month – already a year late – had to be called off.

“We had a night planned in Hotel Minella on the second Saturday but because of the Covid they had to cancel it, so God only knows when it will be on.”

He has a keen interest in the move towards championship reform and last weekend’s endorsement of the green proposal at Central Council, but he would have preferred the league to have a more central role than the provincial championships.

“In my view, the provincial system is hanging in there. That’s what I would be saying straight up and it is fairly obvious they have come up with a happy medium. In my eyes, it should be based on your league standings.”

Power also strongly believes that the tier two Tailteann Cup must be staged on All-Ireland final day when the new format kicks in next year.

More immediate concerns centre on the enduring presence of Covid despite national celebrations of its retreat.

“There are 19/20,000 students in UL for example; there is going to be Covid. I am delighted we are back open again but we are gone from a situation where we had to have Covid certs going into pubs a week ago and now we can go into a pub, hotel, anywhere without any cert.

“I can’t get my head around that in many ways. It is great for it to be open but what I am saying is we will have to take it week on week. It is grand sitting here and saying that our big target is getting out of Division Four but who is to say in a couple of weeks it could be completely out of our hands because half the panel could be gone from us because of Covid?”

Sligo’s Niall Murphy scores his side’s opening goal despite goalkeeper Brendan Flynn of Leitrim during a recent FBD Connacht Senior Football League quarter-final at Connacht GAA Air Dome. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Sligo’s Niall Murphy scores his side’s opening goal despite goalkeeper Brendan Flynn of Leitrim during a recent FBD Connacht Senior Football League quarter-final at Connacht GAA Air Dome. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Seán Moran’s Division Four team-by-team guide

CARLOW
Manager:
Niall Carew
2021: Division Four semi-finalists and lost Leinster first round to Longford
Opening fixture: v London (home)
Trying to recover the Carlow Rising buzz will be challenging with the retirement of two troupers Paul Broderick and Shane Redmond.

CAVAN
Manager:
Mickey Graham
2021: Relegated and lost Ulster quarter-final to Tyrone
Opening fixture: v Leitrim (away)
After last year’s disastrous tumble, backroom team has been strengthened by Tyrone All-Ireland winner Ryan McMenamin and former star forward Seán Johnston. Decent McKenna Cup campaign.

LONDON
Manager:
Michael Maher
2021: Did not compete
Opening fixture: v Carlow (away)
Badly hit by Covid, they haven’t played a senior match in nearly two years. Manager Michael Maher is the first London native to take on the role and must re-energise the team.

LEITRIM
Manager:
Andy Moran
2021: Division Four shield semi-final, scratched and lost Connacht semi-final to Mayo
Opening fixture: v Cavan (home)
High-profile appointment of Andy Moran has enthused the county. Opportunity, hosting promotion favourites Cavan, to make a big start to the campaign.

SLIGO
Manager:
Tony McEntee
2021: Division Four Shield finalists and lost Connacht quarter-final to Mayo
Opening fixture: v Wexford (away)
Red Murphy’s opting a blow but namesake Niall looked sharp in recent outings and the county has acquired Pat Spillane junior, whose mother is from Sligo.

TIPPERARY
Manager:
David Power
2021: Relegated Division Three and lost Munster semi-final to Kerry
Opening fixture: v Waterford (away)
Hoping to bounce back after an awful year. Loss of Michael Quinlivan won’t help but Robbie Kiely returns. Opportunity to build panel in less stressful surrounds.

WATERFORD
Manager:
Ephie Fitzgerald
2021: Division Four and lost Munster quarter-final to Limerick
Opening fixture: v Tipperary (home)
Topped the table, unbeaten 12 years ago. Nothing threatened since. Cork All-Ireland winning women’s manager Ephie Fitzgerald is the latest to try his hand.

WEXFORD
Manager:
Shane Roche
2021: Won Division Four Shield and lost Leinster quarter-final to Dublin
Opening fixture: v Sligo (home)
Not a bad year in 2021 having won the divisional shield, had a first championship win in seven years before sounding alarm on Dublin’s decline.

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