‘Tipp football isn’t in a good place, let’s be honest’

Selector Shane Stapleton was the first to raise concerns about the overall state of Tipperary football after their seven-point defeat to Limerick.

The shock loss follows their relegation to Division 3 of the League and came days after the county’s minors were eliminated in a 15-point hammering by Clare.

Since they made the All-Ireland finals at minor and U21 level in 2015, their record has been among the worst in Munster. The minors have been knocked out by Clare three times and Limerick once, while at U21/U20 level, Tipp haven’t won a single game since 2015.

“It’s a massive setback. Tipp football isn’t in a good place, let’s be honest,” said Stapleton.

“The U20s are training away but mightn’t have the biggest hopes for the year. The minors only won one match out of four. We were relegated out of Division 2 and now we got beaten by Limerick, a team a lot of neutrals would’ve fancied us to get over.

“So it’s not in a good place but the only thing is we have a lot of firepower in [the dressing room] that can get us back on track if we put the shoulder to the wheel and all stay together.”

Manager Liam Kearns added: “I still have a lot of faith in that panel... but certainly, we’ve taken steps backwards in the last two years and this year in particular.

“We just have to have a long hard look at it now but that has to be after the year is finished. Certainly, we seem to be behind at underage level.

“The County Board and everybody will have to look at that.”

Kearns agreed that the manner of the defeat was emphatic from start to finish.

“It was a really disappointing performance and a real low point for us.

“The Championship was where we wanted to perform. Now, the year has gone disastrously badly for us in regards to injuries. You saw out there, there’s three or four guys playing their first competitive matches today and we just didn’t get away with it.

“This is the second year in a row now, Cork last year, our preparations weren’t right and if you’re not right going into Championship matches, you’re going to get found out. We hoped last year that we’d be able to get by, but we didn’t. We hoped this year that we would, and we weren’t.”

He went through the list of pre-match concerns. Robbie Kiely, Shane O’Connell, Bill Maher, Josh Keane, all with zero game time in them. Jack Kennedy and Jimmy Feehan coming back from injury.

Kearns was also keen to shower praise on Billy Lee, his former selector with Limerick and close friend.

“I’m not taking away from Limerick in the slightest.

“They were absolutely outstanding. They came with a game plan, they were way sharper, wanted it way more, and they played us off the pitch. We were beaten in most lines of the pitch. We can’t have any complaints.”

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