Tipp manager Power hails emotional achievement
By John Harrington
Tipperary manager, David Power, unsurprisingly struggled to keep his emotions in check after his team’s historic victory over Cork in this afternoon’s Munster SFC Final.
The Premier County has waited 85 years for this day to come, and for someone like Power who is so passionate about all things Tipperary football, it means a hell of a lot.
“Emotional, very emotional,” said Power when asked how he was feeling after the match.
“I know the 100 years since Bloody Sunday is one thing, but this is 85 years (since last Munster win) and there is a lot a lot of people after doing a huge amount of work.
“This group, over the past 15 years, we have got to minor finals, U21 finals, I am going back to Brian Fox and Philip Austin's time, so I always believe this was going to be our day because there has been a lot of work.
“There has been a lot of articles about underage, but today Tipperary needed to win a senior title. That is what we got. We could have won by a bit more but we played some seriously really good football there today. 17 points, that is serious going.
“There was an inner belief. That was the big thing over the last two weeks, we always believed we could beat Cork and I didn't have to say that, the players knew it.
“I didn't have to say that, the players knew it because they were after beating Cork at minor and U21 and back in 2016 they played Cork as well. There was always that core belief there."
A feature of the match was how Tipperary dominated the start of ever quarter. They scored the first three points of the match, the first point after the first water-break, the first point of the second-half, and the first two points after the second-half water-break.
Power revealed afterwards it was a key objective to hit Cork hard at those stages of the match.
“The way we kind of broke it down, it was four quarters,” said Power. “Let's see can we win each quarter. That's the way it's kind of gone with the water breaks. Last couple of games the water breaks have been a bit of a bloody disaster for us.
“After the first water break with Limerick we were very poor and the same again we left Limerick again after (second water break). So we were just concentrating on, let's see can we win the four quarters. I don't know did we win all four quarters but there was always a tight margin.”
Cork did their best to reel Tipperary in during the second-half and dominated possession, but they struggled to make any headway past the Premier County’s superbly organised defence and never looked like scoring the goal they ultimately needed.
No, I suppose we would have seen the last two championship matches and we were really basing it on, I think Cork hit us for early goals in both matches,” said Power.
“So, look, we had our homework done but the backs were outstanding. Alan Campbell was outstanding, Jimmy Feehan, like Jimmy would have been taken off in the last two matches against Cork because things hadn't gone right but he's a different animal now.
“He's really playing with confidence, Colm O'Shaughnessy, look they were all great, very hard to pick out, they were really good there today.”
Colin O’Riordan played his first match for Tipperary since moving to Australia in 2015 to play in the AFL with the Sydney Swans.
He didn’t score, but he played a huge part in his team’s victory thanks to his ability to win hard ball, drive at the Cork defence when he had possession himself, and put in a big shift defensively when he didn’t.
“We've been very fortunate with Colin, he's been with the group basically since we've been back,” said Power.
“That's the 14th of September, maybe a week or two shy of that. He's been with us and he's been brilliant with the players but I don't think is about Colin O'Riordan, it's about the 41 men that are training every night.
“There was some fantastic performances and Conor Sweeney lead by example there today.”
Power admitted that it added to the emotion of the achievement that they had won a long-awaited Munster title on the 100th anniversary of Bloody Sunday when one of their own, Mick Hogan, was murdered by Crown Forces in Croke Park.
“It’s huge. I think it’s absolutely huge. I thought last night was absolutely fantastic in Croke Park and to be winning on this occasion and as I said we are on TV, everyone watching us, that is unbelievable PR for Tipp football going forward.”
Tipperary will now play Mayo in the All-Ireland SFC semi-final on December 6, but Power isn't going to worry too much about that challenge just yet.
"It’s incredible, but I’m not going to even talk about an All Ireland semi final here today it’s about enjoying this occasion it is huge for Tipp football and in the next couple of days we will look at Mayo but 85 years we have to just enjoy this moment."