Peter Acheson: I’m sure the lads will be fine without me

In 2014, Peter Creedon convinced him otherwise and earlier this year it was Liam Kearns. But this time, Peter Acheson’s not for turning. The next few days are about goodbyes as he and his girlfriend Róisín prepare for a new life in Dubai.

Unless they don’t like the place, it’s a stint there for the foreseeable future and Acheson, Tipperary’s indomitable senior football captain in 2016, has a few things lined up in either finance or insurance when he arrives.

Róisín, a qualified hairdresser, won’t be stuck either and she has an aunt and cousins living in Dubai already.

Acheson is almost certain to earn an All Star nomination but only confirmation that he’s won a prized statuette would bring him home for the ceremony, he admits. “I don’t think I’ll get one, personally,” he says. “I’ll probably get nominated but I didn’t have a great semi-final. Mikey (Quinlivan) and (Conor) Sweeney are in with a great shout as well. If I get one, I’ll come back alright but if I don’t, I won’t be coming back.

“It would be expensive for myself and Róisín to come home for the ceremony but it would be a nice achievement to get nominated.”

Acheson, 26, was persuaded to stay by Creedon when he contemplated the move two years ago. And after Tipp had navigated their way through the choppy waters of Division 3, Kearns chatted with the player and common ground was found.

Acheson would stay but when Tipp’s championship run came to an end, he was gone. Normally, that would be in July but the Premier County’s progress to a first All-Ireland SFC semi-final in 81 years saw Acheson stick around a lot longer than he’d anticipated.

His departure is a massive blow for Kearns and Tipperary but not even the lure of potential progress is strong enough to keep him here, not when he’s already sacrificed so much. And while his team-mates and supporters would hold out some hope that he might return before the 2017 championship, Acheson admits it’s unlikely, unless homesickness or a failure to settle become issues.

“Probably not, to be honest,” he says. “Unless we don’t enjoy it. I can’t see us not enjoying it. Myself and herself get on very well. It’s a pity I’m going now but if I don’t go now, I can never go and I just have to get out there.

“If I get back in a year or two, I’m still 27 or 28 and I might get back in the blue and gold at some stage.”

And even though Tipp played in front of over 50,000 fans at Croke Park last Sunday, there’s no fresh turmoil swirling through his brain.

“No doubts,” he insists. “I’m definitely gone. It’s a pity this (progress) didn’t happen three or four years ago for me but look, Sweeney, (Philip) Austin and Mac (Ciaran McDonald)… if we can hold onto those old stock, I’ve no doubt the lads will still be going strong in two or three years’ time.”

Peter and Róisín were due to book flights yesterday and last night, he went up to the Monroe Sports Complex to say goodbye to his friends at Moyle Rovers. The last few days were when Tipperary players celebrated a remarkable season.

“It was quiet for the first two or three hours after the game,” Acheson reflects. “But then you have to forget about it, nothing you can do. We had a few pints for two days — good craic in fairness.”

Tipp’s post-match celebrations almost became the stuff of legend during the summer and Kearns’s liberal views on same seemed to take most people by surprise. But that’s how it is in the vast majority of inter-county set-ups and that’s how it should be, in Acheson’s view.

“It’s always been done and it’s the right thing to do, too. We’re training for eight or nine months together and you miss weddings, 21sts, 30ths, trips to New York, everywhere! It’s only right to have a few drinks with your friends after.”

Yesterday morning, Acheson paid a visit to Dr John Hynes in Clonmel for an assessment on his injured left hand. He’ll be four or five weeks in a splint/cast to protect the injury, which he sustained two weeks ago in training as Tipp prepared for Mayo.

“No heavy lifting and I should be fine. A tackling drill — I hit two lads a shoulder, I think it was Billy (Hewitt) and Niall O’Donovan. I looked down and the finger didn’t look great. I found out it was broken then. Liam said to keep it between ourselves — we didn’t want the players knowing or Mayo knowing.”

Acheson being Acheson, he played last Sunday and before watching a re-run for the first time last night, he suspects it was very much a case of opportunity lost. “We were on top for the first quarter of the game, for the first 15 or 20 minutes we blitzed them and should have been up by more than three.

“The (Jason Doherty) goal was a massive blow and they dominated the rest of the half. We regrouped at half-time and we were the better team for the next 20 minutes — the second goal killed us again. Small margins but we could have won the game, definitely.”

It was a disappointing end to a landmark campaign (victory over Galway was Acheson’s personal highlight) but the challenge now is to ensure this year wasn’t just a one-off.

“I think six or seven lads will come back onto the panel and they’re all serious players — there will be some competition for places and I’m sure the lads will be fine without me,” he says. “Obviously Sham (Seamus Kennedy) will stick with the hurling, he’s flying with it and I wish him all the best in the final too, he’s an absolute gentleman.

“Steven O’Brien, I haven’t been talking to him personally but if he wants to come back, all well and good because he’s a serious footballer. Then there’s the likes of Jason (Lonergan), Kevin (Fahey), Ross (Mulcahy), plenty of lads to come back in.

“It’s fairly obvious that every now and then we aren’t treated the same as others but we don’t mind that. To be honest, it gives us an extra 5% or 10%. Hopefully, Liam will get the assurances he’s looking for — I’ve no doubt he will.”

He admits he wondered if there would ever be days like the ones Tipp experienced in 2016. “To be honest, I thought it was going to be after my time. We were making progress but they were baby steps and this was a massive step-up. But I know the talent in that squad is unreal — I knew we were capable of it but I didn’t know it would happen.”

“It’s an amateur sport and you have to love it or you can’t do it,” he adds. “It’s not even myself — it’s the family and girlfriend dragged from every position and missing out on everything.”

But not this time. Not for now, anyway.


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