Tipperary under-21 football manager Declan Browne.
On Wednesday, March 8th Tipperary will launch their 2017 EirGrid Munster Under-21 Football Championship campaign against Limerick at Páirc na nGael, Limerick (throw-in 7.30pm) with the prize for the victor a place against Cork in the provincial semi-finals. And, before Tipperary fans have a chance to get carried away with themselves and discount the Limerick challenge under-21 football manager Declan Browne has sounded a word of warning.
“Limerick are making great strides and the Limerick minors turned over our minors last year. There is not going to be a kick of the ball between Limerick and Tipp and never has been,” Declan Browne told the Tipperary Star.
“We can’t look too far ahead because we will get caught. Who are we to think that we are better than Limerick? That’s the way I would look at it,” Declan Browne said.
“You have to go out and earn it. You have to be honest about it on the night and give it your all. The result will take care of itself after that. Obviously we are hoping to win and we would like to win, but there are no guarantees. We could be preparing to face Cork, Kerry or Clare the following week and we would be preparing the exact same way - just for a different coloured jersey,” Browne added.
Manager Declan Browne (Moyle Rovers) is joined on the Tipperary under-21 management team by selectors Philly Ryan (Clonmel Commercials), Peter Lambert (Ardfinnan), Liam England (Inane Rovers) and Andrew Lacey (Arravale Rovers). Cahir’s Alan O'Connor is taking responsibility for the strength and conditioning of the squad while Galway man Peter Fahy is the team’s lead physiotherapist.
And, everyone associated with the management group has one thing on their mind: to help drive Tipperary football forward.
“Tipp football has made massive strides,” Declan Browne explained.
“There are five or six of us there (on the management team). We want to be part of it and we want to help it along as best we can. It’s great to win and that’s the nature of the game, but if we can hand two or three experienced lads on to Liam Kearns (senior football manager) next year it’s a job well done too. We need to keep the whole development process going.”
Declan Browne is guiding a squad of real pedigree this season. Indeed, Tipperary have been especially competitive at the under-21 grade for the past five seasons.
In 2016 Tipperary lost by just a point to Kerry (1-7 to 0-11) in the quarter-finals while the Premier County claimed the provincial crown in 2015 when beating Cork in the final (1-15 to 3-8) and Clare in the semi-finals (0-15 to 0-7). Tipperary lost the 2014 provincial final to Cork (3-8 to 1-18) having beaten Clare (2-22 to 0-9) and Waterford (0-19 to 2-3) en route to that decider and also lost the provincial decider in 2013 to Cork (0-9 to 1-17) having beaten Waterford (1-17 to 0-9) and Clare (1-12 to 0-7) during that particular campaign while Tipp lost a 2012 quarter-final to Kerry (0-5 to 0-11).
“Oh, they are a great bunch,” Declan Browne said as he revealed what a joy it is to work with a group of ambitious and experienced players.
“This group is used to contesting finals. So, they know what it takes. From that side of things they are well tuned in which makes the job a good bit easier. You’re not cajoling them to say it’s okay to play football for Tipp - they know fully what they are after buying into and, in fairness to them, they carry it more so than us. We direct them as best that we can and we coach them as best we can, but they are a really good bunch. They take everything on board; they are willing to listen and to learn which is all I really ask for,” Declan Browne said.
OLD SCHOOL COACH
The Moyle Rovers man, a self-declared “old school” coach, will, of course, want to stamp his own ideas and beliefs in terms of a footballing style on the group.
“Everyone tries to put their own stamp on things, but we, as a management group, are old school,” Declan Browne revealed.
“It’s not rocket science; the game isn’t complicated, but it can be made complicated if you want to complicate it. And, I think that’s where teams fall down. It’s a simple thing - you keep the basics right, after that you work on individual ability and the team.
“The team that makes the least mistakes wins most matches and it is as simple as that. It’s knock-out football, on the night anything can happen and it has happened down through the years. If you don’t get it right on the night you are gone - you don’t have that luxury of the second chance. That’s the beauty of knock-out - you train for whatever length of time for one game and you’re either good enough on the night or you are not,” Declan Browne added before suggesting that he admires teams who actually kick the ball.
“It is called football and, obviously, you cut your cloth to measure. So, we will sit down together during the week and see exactly what way we intend to go. We have a fair idea of what we want the lads to do. We won’t be publicizing it.
“We are old school, but the game has gone so professional and there is so much thought put into it in terms of tactics and video analysis that you have to find the time to do that too. So, in that respect we are learning ourselves when it comes to that.
“You are just hoping that you can get the mix right. If you do and it doesn’t work then that’s the joys of it, but if we don’t get the mix right then we have got to take the responsibility for that; that’s the joys of management,” Declan Browne added.
2014 MINOR EXPERIENCE
As minors this group of players beat Waterford (2-11 to 2-7) before losing out to an immensely talented Kerry team in a provincial semi-final (0-7 to 2-18) - that Kerry side progressed to win the All-Ireland minor championships during a stunning campaign which saw the Kingdom won their contests by an average of nine points.
“There is a huge difference between minor and under-21. Everyone knows that Kerry are good, but we can’t take Limerick for granted. Tipp football is in a good place and you are just hoping that things work out for you on the night,” Declan Browne said.
TIPPERARY UNDER-21 FOOTBALL PANEL
Tipperary under-21 football panel: Michael Barlow (Ardfinnan), Ciarán Barrett (Clonmel Óg), Jamie Bergin (Drom & Inch), Dáire Brennan (Kilsheelan-Kilcash), Aidan Buckley (St Patrick’s), Jack Butler (Upperchurch-Drombane), Conor Cashman (Cahir), Michael Connors (Drom & Inch), Willie Connors (Kiladangan), Dáire Egan (Galtee Rovers), Liam Fahey (Rockwell Rovers), Paudie Feehan (Killenaule), Morgan Irwin (Moyle Rovers), Stephen Kelly (Clonmel Commercials), Jack Kennedy (Clonmel Commercials), Colm Kinnane (Drom & Inch), John Lyons (Grangemockler-Ballyneale), Charlie Manton (Fethard), Brendan Martin (Kilsheelan-Kilcash), Brian McKenna (Cahir), Emmet Moloney (Drom & Inch), Jordan Moloney (JK Bracken’s), Michael O’Connor (Cahir), Colm O’Shaughnessy (Ardfinnan), Danny Owens (Moyle Rovers), Ross Peters (Clonmel Commercials), Shane Power (Galtee Rovers), Stephen Quirke (Moyle Rovers), Joe Ryan (Killmurry, Cork), Liam Ryan (Clonmel Commercials), Jack Skehan (Holycross-Ballycahill) & Gavin Whelan (Ardfinnan).