Tipperary’s senior footballers have drawn first blood in the clash with Longford on Saturday in the All-Ireland qualifier tie, with the home venue advantage falling on The Premier County’s side.
The significance of this advantage should not be under estimated and coming on the back of a stirring performance against Cork in Pairc Ui Choaimh in the Munster championship - a performance which won Tipperary a lot of admirers from inside and outside the county - it could well be the weight which will tip the scales in Peter Creedon’s mens favour.
Of course, the defeat to Cork was heartbreaking given how close the side came to pulling off what would have been a famous victory. But, Tipp were back in recovery mode the morning after that game and were determined to wash out the stiffness from the limbs as well as cleansing the mental scars from the mind, with qualifiers in mind.
The footballers have prepared very well and the one thing they have going into this game with Longford, is the knowledge that they can mix it with the big boys. And, Longford are big boys.
Jack Sheedy’s side defeated Offaly in Leinster, lost to Wexford and then travelled to Derry where their claimed the significant scalp of Derry - quite an achievement that.
So, Longford come to Thurles as a side not afraid to travel and brimming with confidence . They will be fully confident of coming away with the place in the next round secured - just the kind of mindset Tipperary wish to see in their visitors.
The big hope now from a Tipperary perspective is that the players can produce the same kind of game they have been doing all season long - not just against Cork in the last game. The players have developed the knack of taking the game to the opposition and supporters will be hoping that the same can ring through on Saturday. If they can get a good start and settle down to the task in hand fairly quickly, Tipperary will be very hard to beat.
They need to see out games though - the only two defeats this season, against Cork and Wicklow - have been lost in injury time. All will be revealed on Saturday evening.