By Brian McDonnell
THE Tipperary minor footballers, thanks to a superb 3-11 to 1-9 win over defending champions Cork, collected the Tadhg Crowley Cup for only the sixth time at a sun-drenched Fitzgerald Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Tipp, with captain Liam McGrath, Colin O’Riordan, John Meagher, Ian Fahey, Michael Quinlivan and TJ Ryan all outstanding, trailed 1-2 to 1-5 after 24 minutes played, but stormed back into contention and retired at the break on level terms with the raging hot favourites - 1-7 apiece. And, in the second half Tipperary strode away from Cork, scoring 2-4 while holding the Rebels to just two points.
Kilsheelan-Kilcash’s David Power managed Tipperary to their sixth provincial minor title (1934, 1935, 1955, 1984, 1995 & 2011) and was joined on the management team by Tom Duggan (Arravale Rovers), Pat Murphy (Kilruane MacDonagh’s), Fergal McDonnell (JK Bracken’s) and Alan O’Connor (Cahir).
“It’s hard to put it into words, but we put in such a great effort this year, you would not believe the effort especially with the leaving cert in the last couple of weeks and we had six dual players as well,” David Power said in the wake of Tipp’s ninth ever win over Cork.
“It has been tough, but we kept at it. I just believed in these lads for the simple fact that we have won under-15, under-16 and under-17 last year. These boys are used to winning. I know Cork were missing a few, but I think we showed that no matter what Cork team was out there today that we were going to win. We showed desire, passion and skill and that’s what won us the game.”
Since 1956 Cork and Kerry have won every Munster minor football title with the exception of 1984, 1995 (both also won by Tipperary) and now 2011.
“I suppose Kerry are always hard to beat,” David Power added.
“If I ever had a choice of playing anyone in a final, Kerry or Cork, I would always choose Cork because Kerry, they’re hard to beat in a final, a lot harder than Cork. I’m not saying Cork are bad now, but Tipp have a thing about Kerry.
“We beat them in the semi-finals and what a way to win a Munster championship. We’re after beating Limerick away, we’re after beating Kerry and now we’re after beating Cork. No one can say anything to us. We played with passion and skill and it was just great to see.”
The Tipperary minor footballers had fought their way into four of the last six provincial finals without reward, but David Power’s men were in no mood to lose in Killarney.
“We all said to ourselves that if every player and every selector gave ten per cent extra today that we would get over the line. And, that’s what happened.
“I suppose when Cork got their goal and went two or three points up and our lads came again that was crucial. We kept coming back at Cork the whole time. That was huge and to get the point just before half time to level things up that was a great feeling. That was huge, it really was. That was huge for us.”
Power, now in his third year as manager of the Tipperary minor football team, was eager however to highlight the fact that this provincial title was the culmination of years of good work at underage level in the Premier County.
“It’s the culmination of the development squads as well,” manager David Power explained.
“I’m fairly involved with the development squads as well. You can see all the work going on at all the grades. We need people. One man or two men are not going to do it. You need a group of people and that’s what we have at under-14, under-15, under-16 and under-17 level. It’s a whole process and I just feel that in the next couple of years, if we can hold on to the likes of the Liam McGraths for senior football, we could be doing this at senior in a couple of years’ time.
“Today, we were representing all the so-called weaker counties in Ireland. The Limericks, the Waterfords and the Clares. And, I just hope that this presses home that if you put in the work, if you put the effort in it’s there for you. You can beat the Corks and the Kerrys.
“We are in a tough province and we have to lift our game. At the end of the day you have to make one of two choices, either work at it or forget about it. You have to work at it if you want these kind of days. And, it paid off today.”