Conor Sweeney: 'It's fantastic to get over the line'
By John Harrington
Considering the history he and his team-mates had just created, Tipperary captain Conor Sweeny was remarkably calm and collected after today’s Munster SFC Final victory over Cork.
He was just as unflustered during the match itself, coolly kicking seven points that played a huge part in Tipperary’s 0-17 to 0-14 victory.
Right from the moment he scored their first point of the match in the very first minute, Sweeney and all of his team-mates played with the conviction that they were going to win this match.
Which is probably why he seemed in no way surprised by their victory in its aftermath.
“It’s something we’ve waited a long time for,” said Sweeney. “We came here today with great belief and great confidence. To be honest I don’t think we ever looked like losing it really. It’s just fantastic to get over the line.
“For the next few hours, it’s just going to be helter-skelter between getting out of here, getting food, getting back to Tipp, going home. It’s only then when you get a chance to relax it will probably sink in. Look, we’re under no illusions.
“There was a bit of pressure. There was pressure internally from the players. We wanted to deliver at senior level. We wanted to put in a performance. And we wanted to prove we could compete here, and we did that today which is great.”
If Sweeney did have one small regret on the day, it’s that his victorious captain’s speech was delivered to an empty stadium and that those closest to him weren’t there to watch him lift the Cup.
“Listen, obviously it's well documented that it's been a strange year, and today is no different,” he said.
“To be fair, we've only a small core of true supporters anyway, but they're just fantastic.
“They follow us up and down the country, League matches, Championship, through thick and thin. For those, it's tough not being here. For family members, like, my two parents, my fiance, all the players' parents, it's just heart-breaking for them not to be here.
“I know in my heart and soul they'll be jumping at the television at home or they'll be willing us on. We'll get to meet them individually over the next couple of weeks or whatever. We'll probably get to celebrate at some stage collectively. Whenever that will be, I don't know.
“We're just going to enjoy the next couple of weeks now and the build-up to the next game.”
Tipperary wore the same white and green hooped jersies that their forebears wore on Bloody Sunday in 1920 to mark the centenary of the tragedy.
An image of Mick Hogan, the Tipperary footballer killed by Crown Forces on Bloody Sunday, was superimposed onto one of the jersey sleeves.
The Premier County played like a team inspired by the emotion of all of that history, but Sweeney made it clear they were so driven to finally win a Munster title they didn’t need to draw on any additional sources of motivation.
“Look, not particularly,” he said. “I don’t want to sound disrespectful or anything. We were conscious of that two weeks ago after the Limerick match. We were conscious of the jersey.
“We were conscious of the occasion and all the history with it. But as players we had to park it, because we had a match to go and win.
“We didn’t want to get caught up or distracted with the whole build-up. It’s only now that we can reflect and enjoy it as much as we can.
“We all know what went on. It’s a really emotional year for the GAA, especially Tipperary people and Dublin people. It’s a privilege to be involved.
“But first and foremost as players was to prepare for a match and go out and win it. Thankfully we’ve done that and now we can enjoy the history behind it all.”
Tipperary now have two weeks to prepare for an All-Ireland semi-final against Mayo.
Once again, they will be underdogs. Once again, they will relish the challenge.
“We're under no illusions, they're a class team,” said Sweeney.
“I think they're a little bit rejuvenated this year. I think they're playing some great football the last couple of games.
“Look, we'll be the underdogs and that's fine too. If we're going to beat them we'll have to play as well as we did today and probably a bit better.
“Look, that's for another day. They're probably to see us coming as well. They're probably happy with the draw and the result. That's for another day. We'll just enjoy today.”