Tipperary’s All-Ireland dream ‘becoming a reality’

Tipperary football board chairman Joe Hannigan has suggested that winning an All-Ireland senior title by 2020 is “no longer a pipe dream” and “fast becoming a reality.”

Tipp contested their first All-Ireland semi-final in 81 years against Mayo last August and hopes are high manager Liam Kearns and his players can build on that.

Hannigan has also appealed for “accommodation” on the use of dual players at minor level next year, insisting that prospective young stars wishing to play both codes should be allowed to do so.

Minor hurling manager Liam Cahill insisted in 2016 it was one code, but not both, for Tipp minor players, a stance he can claim was vindicated as his team cruised to Munster and All-Ireland glory.

But Hannigan said: “We have to come up with an accommodation that players interested in playing both can do so. To achieve success in hurling and football in a county, there are always going to be issues, but the only way forward is for everyone to work together. It’s an issue we have to look at.”

When Barry O’Brien took over as Tipperary county board chairman in December 2008, his passionate opening address may have provoked some muffled sniggers among more sceptical delegates.

O’Brien insisted at the timeTipperary football teams should be aiming for All- Ireland titles at minor, junior, U21 and senior levels by 2020.

Underage and senior success achieved in the intervening years has fuelled hope Tipp could win an All-Ireland senior football title for the first time since 1920.

And Hannigan told delegates attending Monday’s football board convention: “We can look back at the 2020 vision now – the way things are going, it’s no longer a pipe dream, it’s fast becoming a reality.We are looking forward to 2017. We have to build on this success and drive it on.

“We have the calibre of player in the county to do it. That should be our target and we are well on our way to doing it.

“2016 was a great year – it was a year when the boys became men and we look forward to driving Tipperary football on now in 2017. We achieved serious recognition. People all around the country are talking about Tipperary and the brand of football that the team played. We need to look to the future, build on the success and back up the work that we have done.

“If we can build and go on a couple of extra steps on from 2016, that will put us within touching distance of an All-Ireland.”

Looking ahead to next season, Hannigan challenged the Tipp senior footballers to gain promotion from Division 3 of the Allianz Football League and to win a first Munster senior football title since 1935.

After contesting the 2016 provincial final, Tipp are straight through to next year’s Munster semi-final, where they will face Cork or Waterford. And Hannigan said: “If we get to a final, they might be looking to get us to Páirc Uí Chaoimh but we’ll have to look at where we are with a home fixture.”

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