Ahead of their Munster semi-final victory over Cork, the Tipperary footballers could call on the scouting of physical trainer Dave Moriarty, who’d spent the last couple of years training Glen Rovers on Leeside.
At least they could have if Moriarty had seen any football games.
“I was absolutely no help whatsoever,” laughs Moriarty. “Robbie Kiely is playing with Carbery Rangers, he would have been far better as a source of information. Going back to Cork should be interesting, though, in terms of the reaction.”
A first championship win over Cork in over seven decades should surely produce a comment or two. Moriarty and Tipp manager Liam Kearns have been on the sideline together before, but the result in Thurles was special.
“I said it to Liam, that we’d soldiered together with Limerick a few years ago and we had some memorable days back then, too. We beat Cork down in Pairc ui Chaoimh in 2003, after all.
“Against Cork in Thurles I went over to him with maybe 20-30 seconds left and said, ‘this is probably the best result we’ve had together’. It was, too, without a doubt - the best situation we were involved in together.
“It was sweet - a shot in the arm that the team and the squad needed with all that had happened in the past six or eight months. That’s been well documented, but it was difficult enough.”
It’s certainly been well documented that Tipperary faced Cork without 13 panellists, many of them certain starters. Some of them headed to America to play for the summer, and Moriarty doesn’t sugar-coat his view of that decision.
“We had a reasonable league campaign, we had a decent chance to get ourselves promoted but we didn’t quite manage to get over the line, unfortunately.
“In hindsight, on the last day (of the league) it was all about survival, and we managed that, but after that, with the news that three or four of your panellists were abandoning you and going off to America - that really hurt.
"It hurt personally, and it hit the group in its totality because it looked as though they didn’t believe in us. In fairness to Liam, though, he galvanised it. There was a dip in the mood for a couple of weeks, but he got the train back on the tracks in time, which is a tribute to him.”
Experience helps, surely. Sunday’s Munster final may be new territory for the Tipp players, but Kearns and Moriarty have been there before.
“It’s good to have that but it’s also slightly different. When we were with the Limerick seniors Liam had already had a lot of those players as U21s a couple of years before, he’d had a big part to play in that all the way along.
"This year coming in a lot of the ground work had been done by Peter Creedon and John Evans, and Noel Flynn and Alan O’Connor on the conditioning side, so it’s slightly different.
“But certainly having the experience of having beaten Cork in a Munster championship game certainly stood to him, I think, because he could use that in talking to and motivating the players.”
Cork - relegated this year - have been struggling, but that wasn’t Tipperary’s focus.
“Being honest, we were just concentrating on ourselves,” says Moriarty.
“That’s a cliche, I know, but we knew most people didn’t give us a hope of a result outside the group. We knew if we put in a good performance and got all we could out of the players we’d be there or thereabouts. It mightn’t get us over the line, but on the day it was enough to do so. We’ll take that.
“It was about the core group galvanising the thing since the league ended, getting back to where we were. And we had a game against Waterford under our belts, which was obviously a help. That stood to us a great deal.
“The likes of Conor Sweeney didn’t start against Waterford, we had players who weren’t fully fit but it was precautionary more than anything. But I’d say Liam and the selectors learned an awful lot from that - especially when you consider Cork didn’t have a game and were going in a bit cold . . .”
Their opponents tomorrow won’t be like that. Kerry have seen Tipperary in action and have a game under their own belts. “Myself and Liam contested two Munster finals down there, in 2003 and the replay in 2004, with Limerick and we came up short.
“It’d be lovely to think we could go that extra step this time, but it’ll be a huge task. Kerry are definitely in the top two or three teams in the country, you’re going into their backyard, they’ve been forewarned about us after the Cork game so it’s not as if we can even bank on catching them on the hop, they’ll have their homework done on us.
“They’ll be ready, it’ll be a massive task, but this is also the kind of game that Peter Acheson and Michael Quinlivan and lads like that deserve to be playing in. They’ve seen the fruits of their labour now and they won’t be afraid going down there — we’ll see where that takes us, and we’ll be hoping to give a good account of ourselves. That’s what we’re focusing on at the moment.”
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