Quinlivan hoping for more surprises in Championship 2021

Long-awaited Munster title success has whetted the appetite of Tipp footballers

Michael Quinlivan is acknowledging all the ways fate and faith co-conspired to help Tipperary land a first Munster football title since 1935, before gently suggesting there's no reason to believe or hope it won't happen again sometime soon.

Quinlivan was about two and a half months into a round-the-world trip in March of 2020 – with the intention of enjoying a full season away from football – when the pandemic put an end to all that, amongst other things.

By the time the delayed Munster championship eventually got going in November, Colin O'Riordan was also available as his Australia Rules Football season was done with.

Once Munster champions Kerry were dumped out by Cork in the other half of the draw, the possibilities began to properly shine, Tipperary also sealing that Munster title on the 100th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday.


“Well I had planned on staying away a little longer, to be honest,” says Quinlivan. “But the way 2020 turned out I can have no complaints, it was one of the better ones anyway, around number one for my county championship, and secondly the Munster championship with Tipperary.

"It was enjoyable in many ways, just being home in Clonmel, after being in Dublin for a long time. I'm cognizant people went through a lot of hard times as well, so while I'm happy with the way mine turned out, I would have preferred probably for things had stayed the same, and people not to have gone through what they had to."

Given how it ended on football terms, and the unlikely chances of Kerry exiting so early again, the challenge for 2021 may only be greater.

“Well there are two sides to it. Had I finished my career without winning a Munster medal, I though think I would ever have been disappointed about it, the biggest thing for me was making great friends along the way, have so many great memories.

“But obviously now that you do have one, it’s some validation for all the hours you’ve spent, to be able to say you’ve done it. But we can’t sit there and say ‘that’s it now’. We need to kick on, we need to keep going, and I wouldn’t like for us to be still talking about it (2020) in a few years’ time, and we’re not even trying to achieve something similar.

More motivated

“Albeit given the weekend that was in it, it’s never going to be repeated in that sense, but there are different ways that you can make seasons memorable.”

Speaking at the recommencement of the Allianz Football League, marking the 29th year of the Allianz partnership with the GAA, Quinlivan suggests Tipp may well be even more motivated to prove 2020 was, co-conspiracy aside, no fluke.

“We played two Munster finals in the last five years, we’d like to add to that. It’s not disrespect, Cork and Kerry are kept apart because people think it will always be those two in the final.

“It would be nice too if there was the second chance (like hurling), but there’s a much smaller number of teams in the hurling championship. It’s great that we can have a championship, last year threw up a lot more surprises and intrigue than it ever has before, and if something similar was to happen this year I don’t think too many people will be disappointed.”

Manager David Power has further increased forward options with the addition of Philip Ryan, who featured for the Dublin footballers between 2013 and 2016, and nephew of 1971 All-Ireland SHC winner Dinny Ryan.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics