Charlie McGeever keenly aware of wider significance of Tipp’s ‘dream final’

Around Clonmel, they’ve been dubbing Sunday’s clash as the ‘dream final’. Commercials against Moyle Rovers for Tipperary SFC bragging rights.

It’s a local derby with plenty of spice but during his time as soccer boss of Finn Harps, Commercials supremo Charlie McGeever became used to them.

He’s learned to separate emotion and process and Sunday will be exactly the same.

On a wider level, however, he appreciates the significance of the fixture and what it can do for Tipperary football as a whole.

In this Gaelic football heartland, a strong Commercials and a strong Moyle Rovers is good for the county.

“It’s rivalry but healthy competition,” says McGeever, who guided the Tipperary minors to last month’s All-Ireland final.

“I’ve been involved in it over the last nine or 10 years, working at underage, not with the senior set-up until this year.

“I’m looking at things from an overall perspective, as outgoing (Tipperary) minor manager.

“I think the next period of years, and I’ve said it before, is going to be especially exciting in South Tipp.

“There’s no way that football can be strong in Tipp if it’s not strong in the Clonmel hinterland.”

But it’s not just there that football is thriving.

McGeever cites the example of Steven O’Brien, a Sigerson Cup medallist with DCU this year, coming through from Ballina in North Tipp to establish himself as a senior inter-county star.

From the Mid, Colin O’Riordan is one of the country’s standout performers who recently put pen to paper on a two-year rookie contract with the AFL’s Sydney Swans.

Behind the scenes, O’Riordan was often called upon by McGeever to deliver key messages to his Tipperary minor teams, given his vast leadership qualities.

“People don’t realise how much the young fella does,” McGeever says.

“He’s an exceptional talent and human being. I drew on him for a minors on a number of occasions.

“He will be an exceptional sportsman all his life, the only question is whether that will be in this country or elsewhere.

“I hope he achieves his ambition with Sydney Swans.

“There will always be a fall back in that he could come back to Tipp a far better athlete.

“He doesn’t need developing as a sportsman or human being — but he can develop as an athlete and that’s a win-win situation for both himself and Tipp.”

In O’Riordan’s absence, Tipp will soldier on at senior level under new management but McGeever insists the future remains exceptionally bright.

“There’s a great sense of players developing from other areas,” he notes.

“You have the likes of Steven O’Brien coming through from where he is, Alan Tynan (Roscrea).

“They’re going to have to produce some sort of development plan going forward in terms of underage structures all the way up because some areas do need development.

“But on Sunday you will see two very young teams with a lot of U21 players.

“That’s the future, these are not two old teams coming together.

“And whatever agreement is reached between the football board and county board when it comes to filling minor, U21 and senior positions, there is a pool of players for people to work with.”

For now, McGeever is focusing his attentions on Commercials and their quest for a first county SFC crown since 2012. Neutral observers may focus on the local aspect to the game but McGeever insists he finds it “easy” to put that element to one side.

“No more than anything else, I was involved in local derbies in Donegal before.

“I’m not in that bracket myself. As someone who’s come into Clonmel, I’ve seen a healthy rivalry, not hatred or bitterness, and when my lad comes into the house he could have two from Rovers and another two from Ardfinnan with him. It will be a football match and putting in into Semple Stadium on an appropriate surface will help to serve up a decent game of football.”


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