By Noel Dundon
All-Ireland Minor Football
Tipperary’s minor footballers take to Croke Park on Saturday afternoon next when they face Mayo in the All-Ireland quarter final with a throw-in time of 3:00pm.
It’s quite a boast for the footballers to be able to say that this is now familiar territory to them and having defeated Roscommon and Dublin in the All-Ireland series at headquarters last season, Tipperary will be more than acquainted with the surrounds.
Indeed, thirteen of the Tipp panel have already played on the hallowed turf and will bring all that experience to the fold when they tog off on Saturday next.
Of course, Tipp have had a very noteworthy season so far with victories over Kerry, Cork and Kerry again in the Munster championship.
And, who’s to say that the Kingdom won’t come again and meet up with the Premier County if both sides were to go on winning.
But, for now all eyes are on Saturday and Manager David Power (Kilsheelan) is delighted to have a clean bill of health for the big clash with Mayo.
“Thankfully, we seem to have a clean bill of health alright.
“We had a small problem with Dylan Fitzelle but we are very confident that he will be able to play.
“Croke Park has been a happy hunting ground for us in recent times and when the fixture was made there was a lot of delight amongst our squad because that’s where they all wanted to play.
“I suppose it’s where everyone wants to play really and we are thrilled to be part of what will be a great afternoon, and evening, of football.
“Yes, Mayo will have the bigger support because their seniors are playing Down in the qualifier afterwards, but that won’t bother us at all,” David told The Tipperary Star this week.
Tipperary’s eyes were on Mayo in the Connacht Final and David travelled to check out the opposition.
He has also undertaken a lot of research and speaks about how Mayo’s scoring ratios are quite low, but so too are their concession stats.
With this in mind, he feels the game could be quite tight with scoring at a premium - a bit similar to last years quarter final clash against Meath in Portlaoise then?
“Maybe, although I would hope that we won’t be as nervous this time round as we were back then.
“We have gained a lot of experience since then and I would hope that this will stand to us on Saturday.
“In saying that, experience counts for nothing if you are not doing the business on the field,” David says.
Tipp have put back to back Munster titles together in the minor grade.
However, were they to go on and put back to back All-Ireland titles together... that would really be something.
But, as David says, nobody is thinking of an All-Ireland title at the moment; it’s one game at a time; one huge challenge after another.
They have climbed Carrountoohil; are facing Mount Blanc; and Everest looms on the horizon.
Whether Tipp can reach the summit again remains to be seen.
One thing is for sure, there is huge determination in the camp to write themselves into the history books.