By Noel Dundon
Tipperary’s U-21 footballers travel to Pairc Ui Rinn on Wednesday (March 23rd) evening next for the Munster championship semi-final clash with The Rebels for what will be a real test of the Premier mettle.
The defending Munster champions, fresh from their comprehensive victory over Waterford last week, will be hoping to produce a similar performance to the Dungarvan one where they played with real composure and method en-route to recording a ten point victory.
But, Manager John Owens is only too well aware that the Cork lads will pose a very different challenge eventhough he confessed to being quite pleased with the way the team did their job against The Deise.
“Cork will certainly be stronger, faster and more accurate than Waterford and they will pose a very formidable challenge to us. I am delighted with the way we played against Waterford - we showed particularly well in the first half and played to the system. Waterford came at us and we responded.
“We did our job - we weren’t here to bury the ball in the net the whole time. We were here to do our work and we did that. The next day out though we are up against very formidable opposition - a very different type of team,” John said.
The manner of Tipperary’s victory was quite pleasing though as they easily dispensed with the Waterford challenge. The attacking acumen which yielded a ten point victory was quite impressive as Tipperary showed they had the wherewithall to carve open the Deise rearguard time and again. Central to this was the display of full forward David Butler of the Drom-Inch club - a newcomer to Tipperary football and a man more renowned for wielding the ash.
“David Butler has been a great find for us. He has tremendous vision and is a great player. He is coming from a hurling background but he has fit in perfectly and a lot of scores come off him,” said John.
Butler was the perfect target man at the edge of the square and chipped in with three points from play as well as linking effectively with star attacker Conor Sweeney and David McGrath in the full line.
Tipperary’s link up play was very impressive and they wasted very little possession - under John’s regime, the mantra seems to be, if the pass is on give it; if not, don’t. It sounds simple, but in the heat of battle the message can often become distorted. Against Waterford, Tipperary seemed to have it off to a tee.
“We were a bit nervous coming down to Fraher Field for the clash with Waterford because we had a few injuries to the team and you can never be sure how much that knocks out of you.
“We had five of last years minors on the team and it was good to give them a bit of experience - guys who will figure for Tipperary in the future as well.I was very happy with the first half display and I suppose we can only beat what’s in front of us.
“Kerry came down here last year and beat Waterford by 18 points and then we came along and beat Kerry - so all we can do is play what’s in front of us and take it from there. That means Cork next and we are looking forward to having a crack off them,” John said,
Tipperary will be hoping to have the influential and experienced Alan Moloney back for the semi-final, but the news is not as positive about the prospects of having Ger Mulhaire, Paddy Dalton or Dara Dwyer to pick from. Still, the strength in depth of the squad was very much in evidence in Dungarvan and the hope is that the players will have gained a much needed confidence boost in advance of their visit to Leeside.
The game gets underway at 7:30pm in Pairc Ui Rinn.