The Premier County have finished in the top 12 in two of the previous three All-Ireland senior football championships and have taken giant strides following a landmark minor success in 2011.
Colin O’Riordan was an All Star nominee last year and Tipp were within a whisker of a shock defeat of Cork in last year’s Munster championship.
Silverware was collected too at Croke Park when they beat Clare in the Allianz Football League Division 4 final. And while Cork and Kerry still cast a long shadow over the Munster football landscape, Waterford’s early-season victory in the McGrath Cup, coupled with Clare and Tipperary’s recent improvement, suggests that some competition for the ‘big two’ may yet emerge.
The fact that Tipperary are listed as second favourites behind Armagh to gain promotion from Division 3 speaks volumes for their progress.
And while Cork native Creedon is naturally pleased with his side’s evolution, realism shines through in any discussion about the team’s long-term prospects.
He said: “My own feeling is the top five or six are a long way ahead (but) if we’re exposed to playing Division 2 football, we’ll get better. We’d be comfortable at that. Waterford are a decent team (but) for many teams like ourselves, we just can’t afford to carry injuries to top players because we wouldn’t have the depth in the panel. But the harder you work, the better you’re going to be as well.”
Tipperary’s dismissal of Limerick yesterday provided further evidence to support a gathering momentum. Having suffered an agonising one-point defeat against Armagh in their opening fixture, Tipp were potentially vulnerable to a Limerick sucker-punch. The Shannonsiders had, after all, disposed of Sligo in their first game despite spurning a host of other chances. But Tipp won by 12 points on a glum and foggy afternoon.
At times, visibility was so poor during the second half that the scoreline was read out over the tannoy. Stadium announcer Liam O’Donoghue kept 513 hardy souls seated in the New Stand abreast of developments, as they strained for a view of the Killinan End scoreboard. At half-time, the home fans need not have worried as Tipp led by 0-8 to 0-0.
Limerick had registered seven first-half wides and failed to score until the 45th minute, when Iain Corbett landed their first point.
Three minutes later, captain Seanie Buckley rammed home a penalty goal but Tipp’s response was emphatic as Ian Fahy responded within a minute with a fine goal to seal a flowing team move.
From there until the finish, it was routine stuff for a Tipperary team on the rise. How far they can go is up to them.
Scorers for Tipperary: C Sweeney 0-5 (3f), I Fahy 1-0, P Acheson, S O’Brien & B Fox 0-2 each, E Comerford (45), A Campbell & M Quinlivan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Limerick: S Buckley 1-0 pen, I Corbett & P Nash 0-1 each.
TIPPERARY: E Comerford; A Campbell, P Codd, A Morrissey; S Kennedy, P Acheson, D Leahy; C O’Riordan, S O’Brien; G Hannigan, B Grogan, B Fox; C Sweeney, M Quinlivan, I Fahy.
Subs: P Austin for Fox (44), D Dwyer for Leahy (56), D Lonergan for Grogan (59), B Mulvihill for O’Riordan (63), D Lynch for Morrissey (65), L Casey for O’Brien (66).
LIMERICK: B Scanlon; S O’Dea, J McCarthy, R Browne; I Corbett, P Browne, S Cahill; T Lee, G Hegarty; D Tracey, D Neville, S Buckley; M Lyons, C Sheehan, C Fahy.
Subs: K Phair for Tracey (h.t.), P Nash for Fahy (h.t.), W O’Donoghue for Neville (55), J Riordan for Lyons (59), J Mullins for Sheehan (67).
Referee: E O’Grady (Leitrim).