Babs Keating: ‘Donkeys’ remark eventually worked against Cork

Babs Keating has described the All-Ireland winning Cork team of 1966 as “moderate enough”, claiming it was one of the easiest All-Irelands ever won.

Tipperary were chasing three-in-a-row in ‘66 but were “caught” in the opening round of the Munster championship by Limerick.

Babs reckons if the backdoor had been in place Tipperary would have successfully come through the qualifiers.

“That was probably one of the easiest All-Irelands won in ‘66,” he remarked. “A moderate enough Cork team won the All-Ireland – a lot of them never won after. We went back to play Limerick two weeks before they played the Munster semi-final [against Cork] and some rich American from that part of the country presented a set of valuable medals and a trophy down in Newcastle West.

“He was from down there. And we beat Limerick by about 15 points. I’ve no doubt if there was a back door in those days…

“I honestly think Tipp had enough in those years to win almost every All-Ireland from the early 60s. Won ‘61, ‘62. Waterford beat them in a bad game in ‘63 and went on to reach the All-Ireland final against Kilkenny. The one team that should have won three-in-a-row was the team I played on in ‘64, ‘65 and ‘66.”

This weekend’s clash between the two counties has invoked endless references to Babs’ infamous utterance ahead of their 1990 clash that ‘donkeys don’t win derbies’. He believes the comment worked against the Rebels the following year as the Premier County exacted revenge for the “injustice” done to their manager 12 months previous.

“When Cork beat us in ‘90, I got shit over the donkeys thing. But in fairness to Ger Canning at the time, he was the interviewer and he covered me at all stages. Cork used it to their advantage.

“Having said that, I think it turned against Cork the following year. Our players stayed loyal to me, committed themselves that, ‘whatever we’ll do this year, we’ll dethrone Cork’. And they did. They felt there was an injustice done to me by the Cork people.”

The former Tipperary boss disagreed with the criticism hurled at the current crop following their league final hammering to Galway but has questioned whether Michael Ryan’s charges possess the killer instinct.

“It is wrong to say they are not a good team. They’re exceptional hurlers, but have they the right mix? I have an old saying, there is a recipe for success that takes in five words with S – speed and stamina. They have that. Style and skill – they have that. And that all leads to scores. But that is no good without the killer instinct. That’s the one with the question mark.

“A number of the present team were there in 2010. Why didn’t they emerge in 2011, ‘12 and ‘13? The same thing happened in the replay in 2014. That is Mick Ryan’s problem, can he instil that in them. That remains to be seen. Galway have sent a message out to every other county that if you want to beat Tipp now, we’ve shown you the road.

“If you take Cork now, I wouldn’t like to be in the dressing room with Diarmuid O’Sullivan and Pat Hartnett. They were two serious backs and anybody wearing a Cork jersey [on Sunday] that don’t do what the Galway players did, they won’t be forgiven by those two.

“You don’t ever discount Cork.There is always a sting. Cork was always a championship team. You discount Cork at your peril.”

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