Tipperary Manager Liam Kearns pictured with selector Shane Stapleton.
“Sure, we all know about Mayo. We have seen enough of them in the past few seasons to know that they are an excellent team with great experience and superb footballers," says Kearns.
Tipperary senior football Manager Liam Kearns will be telling his players this week, as they ready themselves to welcome All-Ireland finalists Mayo to Semple Stadium on Saturday evening in the qualifier tie, that they cannot continue to 'butcher' chances of scores if they wish to be competitive and progress to the Super 8.
Having defeated Waterford in the first round and then losing out rather tamely to Cork in the provincial semi-final, the Tipp Boss will be stressing to his charges that they are better than they showed against the Rebels. But, they must show that from the moment the ball is thrown in.
“Finishing chances was a strength of ours but we have not been doing it in the big games against the likes of Cork and Cavan ( in the league). We have been working on our finishing on most evenings we get together, so there is no real excuse for it, apart maybe from the pressure of big games. But, we cannot continue butchering chances. As a player, if you do not want to play in these big games, then why do you train? These are the days you train for and we are delighted to have the opportunity to take on Mayo.
This is a glamour tie – the tie of the round and it is being covered on SKY TV. The profile of Tipperary football has gone through the roof and Mayo will bring great colour and support to Semple Stadium. Everybody would love to see Mayo win an All-Ireland, so we are under no illusions about what we must do if we are to be competitive,” Liam told The Tipperary Star this week.
Tipperary footballer Michael Quinlivan in action against Cork.
While critical of, and anxious to address, the missed chances, Liam is adament that the forward division should not be singled out for criticism arising from the Cork game. That outing in Thurles featured “a collective under performance” and the challenge for Tipperary will be to rectify this for starters.
“We owe it to ourselves to perform. Everybody within the group accepts that we under performed against Cork. We were not happy with our preparations going into that game, but there is no point on dwelling on that now. We must give credit to Cork as well because they really went at it from start to finish – they out-worked us, out-thought us and out-played us. It was a poor performance from us and there were a lot of factors at play. We just had to get back on the horse, work harder and prove ourselves the next day if we can,” Liam says.
With the Tipperary senior hurlers out of the championship, Liam is hoping that Premier County supporters will make their way to Semple Stadium on Saturday evening to get behind his men. A partisan crowd can make all the difference and the fact that Mayo are likely to travel in numbers will make Tipperary's task even more difficult. Liam was in Pairc na nGael to see Mayo take on Limerick - before the draw was made – and he was struck by the support Mayo had. His attendance there was perhaps prophetic as the subsequent draw pitted his team against the men from the west, whom he got see at close quarters.
“Sure, we all know about Mayo. We have seen enough of them in the past few seasons to know that they are an excellent team with great experience and superb footballers.
“But, we are the home team, they won't have played in Thurles before, and we are the underdogs – a tag which suits us better I think because it is what we are more used to. Our supporters are great to get behind us but we didn't give them much to cheer about against Cork. Hopefully we can give them something to get on their feet for against Mayo and hopefully they will come in force to support us,” Liam said.
Tipp played Clare in a recent challenge game and kicked 1-19 – hopefully they have rediscovered their scoring touch just in time for the Mayo onslaught.
Throw-in is at 5:00pm and the call to arms to supporters is to help the team make Semple Stadium a real cauldron when the mighty Mayo men come to town.