Brian Fox knows that Tipperary football, not hurling, that suffered most as a result of Liam Cahill’s ban on dual players lining out for the Premier minor hurlers.
The county reached the All-Ireland final in both codes in 2015, with six players, Emmet Moloney, Brian McGrath, Stephen Quirke, Alan Tynan, Tommy Nolan and Jack Skehan, featuring in both games.
The two finals were lost and ahead of the minor hurlers’ 2016 campaign, manager Cahill told prospective dual players to pick one code only for the forthcoming season.
Tipperary chairman Michael Bourke backed Cahill’s stance, claiming it is “very hard to serve two masters”.
The hurlers ended 2016 as All-Ireland minor champions. The footballers fell to Cork and Limerick in Munster and their year was done by mid-April. And it was a similar tale of woe this spring, with the Tipp minor footballers losing to Cork by 19 points and then exiting the championship at the hands of Clare.
Brian Fox juggled U21 hurling and senior football commitments throughout 2009. Fox believes emerging talents should be given the opportunity to sample both codes at inter-county level. “I use the minor hurlers and footballers as an example, both of them having success,” the current senior football captain says. “But since this new thing where they don’t allow any dual players at minor, the footballers have suffered more than the hurlers because the hurlers still have a major hold over players. Whereas I think if there were dual players allowed, our minor footballers would be more successful and would be competing a lot more. It’s about communication.
This year represents Fox’s 10th season with the Premier senior footballers. Last year was, of course, the high water mark of his inter-county career. Somewhat surprisingly, though, it wasn’t the All-Ireland quarter-final win over Galway and securing a first All-Ireland semi-final appearance since 1935 that stands out. It was the 3-15 to 2-16 win over Cork at Semple Stadium in the Munster semi-final.
“It was the first time I’d beaten Cork at senior and I’ve played Cork so many times at underage. They beat me in two Munster U21 finals, I remember they got a last minute goal in 2009… So to finally get over Cork and beat them in Semple Stadium and qualify for our first Munster final was special and huge.”
The goal on Saturday evening is to repeat the trick.
“We set a few goals at the start of the year and one of them was to get promoted to Division 2… But now that we’re in a championship, it’s one game to get to a Munster final so our objective is to get back to a Munster final.”
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