Tipperary's Brian Fox hoping to make more history
By John Harrington
Brian Fox still hasn’t come down off the high of helping Tipperary defeat Cork in Sunday’s Munster SFC Final.
He knows too, though, that it’s time to park the elation of the achievement if Tipperary are to do themselves justice now in the All-Ireland SFC semi-final against Mayo.
A text sent around by team management this morning directing players to get a gym session in tonight and then report for collective training tomorrow has helped draw a line under the Munster Final win.
But Fox admits it will still be a challenge for all the players to now zero their sights on the task of beating Mayo in Croke Park on December 6.
“It is a challenge to refocus,” said Fox today.
“For any team that comes off a high like that it is hard. But, I suppose, we haven't been in this position before coming off a Munster success going into a semi-final so it's new territory in that regard even if it's not our first time being in an All-Ireland semi-final.
“It's going to be a huge task for the management and the players to put the heads down now and just try to get back to work and put that in the past.
“Because that's all it is now, it's history. And we just want to keep progressing and see can we make more history and that's only done by refocusing right now on what we can improve on before the next day against Mayo.”
So, what will be required for Tipperary to defeat Mayo?
What areas of James Horan’s team will they target specifically and what threats are they especially wary of?
"I haven't thought about those key ingredients yet but I definitely think, and I'd be talking Mayo up a small bit here, but I have huge respect for Mayo and the way they play football,” says Fox.
"They are all intensity, give 100% absolutely everything to that jersey and if you want to have any chance of beating Mayo...if you see any team beat Mayo, that's what they do, they have to match their intensity levels.
"So that will be the first thing we'll want to get right. I mean, Cork set the standards for us in how they approached the Kerry game and the intensity that they played at.
"We wanted to do something similar to them and that's how it manifested in the game, we set the standards, we started off really, really well, got three points on the board and put them under huge pressure.
"And if we're to have any chance against Mayo, that's what we have to do. We have to just start well, really bring the intensity and not let them get into a rhythm because if they have rhythm, they're an experienced team and they will punish us.”
This is a very experienced Tipperary team that has already proven they have learned from the lessons of past failures.
Fox believes they were better equipped to win last Sunday’s Munster Final because of the experience of losing one in 2016, and he admits the All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Mayo the same year is something they can now draw on as they seek to turn the tables on the same opposition.
“In 2016 I think we were a small bit overawed by the occcasion of the Munster Final. Going down to Killarney the crowds and all of that. Just the fact that it was the first time in 14 years to be in a Munster Final.
“This time it was still a massive occasion with Bloody Sunday and the jersies and stuff like that but we definitely handled it better. The fact that there were no crowds there, you knew that distraction wasn't going to be there and you weren't worried about tickets for your family, all those other distractions were dealt with very early on and we got rid of them very quickly.
“In terms of the semi-final from four years ago, yeah, definitely. The fact that the majority of lads will have played in an All-Ireland semi-final before will help. We're hoping to take that experience and use it going forward.”