Tipperary minor football manager Charlie McGeever believes his charges are in a much better position to tackle Kerry in Sunday’s Electric Ireland All-Ireland decider.
Kerry won the Munster final shootout between the counties but Tipp went into battle on that occasion without dual star Stephen Quirke, who was ruled out with a knee problem.
And McGeever said: “We were disappointed where we were at. All year, we didn’t really hit our straps at all until after the exams and the Munster final.
“Even still, we’re not hitting our straps but we are getting close to it.
“Anybody looking at us in the All- Ireland semi-final (against Kildare) would use the old Fianna Fáil saying, ‘a lot done more to do’ because there was much more to give.
“We converted 11 chances and Kerry’s average is 14 so we need to get to 14 or 15 scores if we are going to win, that is a given.”
Tipp were also faced with the prospect of playing Kerry in their own back yard for the provincial decider whereas Sunday’s repeat clash is on neutral soil at Croke Park.
McGeever added: “We’d love to have won the Munster final but it is just unfortunate.
“The hardest thing I felt over the last three years is to win a Munster final, especially if it is Kerry, because you are conceding everything, the venue, the time of the day, you wouldn’t believe how important I think that is, a 12 o’clock throw-in is just ridiculous. We have no option but to go the day before.
“Then you have the Leaving Certificate just before it and then you have the hurling and football going on.”
Critics of the county’s dual stance have pinpointed it as a perceived reason why the minor hurlers lost to Galway in the All-Ireland final, with nine players involved in both camps.
But McGeever insists that the bigger problem is the hectic fixtures schedule within the county.
He said: “As I say to everybody who wants to know, it’s alright saying this thing of the dual players, the eight or the nine, anyone else on a county panel is a good athlete and is going to play hurling or football anyway because he is the best athlete in the club, probably.
“They don’t have a choice to say they can’t play hurling for six months, they all go back to their clubs and play minor hurling, minor football, senior hurling, senior football, under 21 hurling, under 21 football and everybody focuses in on just the county scene whereas the club scene is a much bigger thing and it takes more distraction.
“This is where they are going to have to bite the bullet at some point where at senior level minors don’t play or something like that, to give them a rest and give them the opportunity to rest.”
And McGeever is confident Tipp will have improved enough defensively from the Munster final, having leaked 2-14 against Jack O’Connor’s Kingdom.
“For the month before the Munster final, it was all around examinations, our training was confined to physical training where the lads kept fit, you had no structure, no setting a team up until the last week. I keep saying it, I got it wrong, I complicated things too much by wanting too much out of players to do, trying to set the team up in a certain way and we didn’t have time to prepare for it. The difference is this time we have time to prepare for it and those small changes, particularly defensive changes, we have a very settled back six but a very different back six.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved