Liam Kearns says Tipperary thrive on pressure

Not alone have they exceeded the expectations of those outside their camp, they’ve surprised themselves too.
Liam Kearns says Tipperary thrive on pressure

Last year may have been a good year for Tipperary football, the off-season, however, wasn’t so kind; Colin O’Riordan signed a two-year rookie contract with the Sydney Swans, Steven O’Brien and Seamus Kennedy opted off the football set-up to throw their lot in with the county’s hurlers, Clonmel Commercials’ Munster club success scratched another fives names off the team sheet for Tipperary’s first two league games of the present campaign and there was also the small matter of a fairly congested injury list.

Ahead of their Division 3 opener back in late January, newly appointed manager Liam Kearns put the figure of those unavailable at 13.

“Tipp had all those players available to them last year and didn’t get out of Division 3,” he said of the challenge facing his depleted squad.

Five rounds in and the Premier County, despite all the departures, injuries and enforced absentees, sit in fourth , kept out of the second promotion berth by virtue of an inferior scoring difference to Longford and Clare.

Their six point total is the very amount they had accrued heading into the final two rounds this time last year.

“We are very pleased to have taken a point or two from every game bar the last one against Longford, and that was a game where we were disappointed with how we performed. We’ve been missing at least 10 players for each game so we have done very well to put ourselves into the mix for promotion,” said Kearns.

The strength-in-depth of this panel has really been tested over the last number of weeks. U21s Colm O’Shaughnessy, Josh Keane and Jimmy Feehan have come in and done well, while Martin Dunne and Alan Moloney have done well at midfield, an important area for us given who we lost.”

League leaders Kildare are the visitors to Clonmel today and Kearns admits that the target is no longer a safe, mid-table finish. He wants promotion and will be disappointed if it is not achieved.

“If we lose against Kildare, it will make getting promoted very difficult and probably out of reach. If we win, though, we are giving ourselves every chance.

“These two final games are almost like championship because they are, in a sense, knockout games. That is the type of situation you want, though. There is pressure involved in these two games and you will learn a lot about your team and how they react.

“It is great that there is something at stake.

“The lads have worked really hard to get us to where we are and we want to go and finish the job. We’d be disappointed if we didn’t.

“That said, if you get promoted, you want to be ready and strong enough to go up. There is nothing worse than getting promoted to a higher division and then coming straight back down.

“Division 2 is extremely competitive and if we get up, we want to be ready for the challenges that it will bring.”

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