By Noel Dundon
For many Tipperary people, next Sunday will be a red letter day. However, for the diehard football supporters of the Premier County who have seen more disappointing days than good, Sunday will be a real watershed. None more so than for Chairman of the Football Board, Noel Morris.
The Borrisokane man has been at the helm now for something of a golden era for Tipperary football, particularly in the underage grades with provincial titles coming at U-15, U-16, U-17, U-21 and now minor. To add a national title would be a major fillip and Noel - a former Chairman of the County Board - is hoping that the dream can come through on Sunday.
“We have a team that has prepared very well over the course of the year. They know what it is like to compete at the top level and they have proven their worth in all of the tests so far. We are very proud of them and that won’t change no matter what the result is on Sunday,” Noel told The Tipperary Star.
All-Ireland Final day in the modern era is about much more than just the game, but Noel has been busy, along with Board members, ensuring that the players and management have only the game to worry about. He is thrilled that the Tipperary Association in Dublin is to honour the players with a traditional All-Ireland Final banquet evening in the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel on Sunday evening and expresses his appreciation in advance for the gesture.
Noel recalls the 1984 final and while Tipperary were soundly beaten by the Dubs, he cannot see the same thing happening this time round. The Tipp lads have shown their character on many occasions throughout the season and will be ready for the Dublin assault when it comes.
“Oor lads are a very solid bunch of players and they have their feet firmly on the ground. They have been looked after very well by the management team and they responded to every call that was made of them. We know going to Dublin at the weekend that these lads will represent Tipperary with great pride and wouldn’t it be a marvellous thing to see the minor footballers lifting some of the disappointment around the county after the senior hurling final defeat.
“It’s fantatsic for Tipperary football to be here on this stage. We feel that we are moving in the right direction now, but we cannot become complacent either. A lot of the players from the 1984 team went on to represent Tipperary with great distinction at senior level - we even had one man, Brian Burke, who went on to play International Rules and represented his country. That’s what we want from this bunch of players as well. Their development doesn’t just stop on Sunday - we want them to progress to the next stage and to carry Tipperary forward in the years to come. That has to be our aim and we feel we are putting the pieces together to achieve that,” Noel said.
The Football Board has been very pleased with the level of support received by the whole set-up over the course of the season and they are looking forward to a lot of support in Croker on Sunday as well.
While acknowledging that the Tipp lads will be outnumberd in terms of support, he feels that the players will use this as a motivating factor to drive them on and spur them over the line with their noses in front.
“We have the talent to do it and while I would acknowledge that Dublin are a very good team, it should also be pointed out that we have a very good team as well. We have beaten football strongholds such as Cork, Kerry and Meath. Throw in Limerick and Roscommon as well - we can’t be all that bad. It would be great to win an All-Ireland minor football final because it represents the future of Tipperary football. Not many lads from Tipperary have those medals and our lads have a real chance of winning them on Sunday,” he said.