Players 'understand they have to prove they belong' in Division 2, says Tipperary football manager

By Peter McNamara

Tipperary manager Liam Kearns shared the opinion his side are proving they belong when competing against the more established counties in the hunt for honours at the higher tables.

The Premier overcame Cork 3-16 to 1-16 at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last Saturday night performing majestically. Tipp were fluid and threatening throughout, even if the Rebels should have been further than one point ahead at half-time.

“I think that is fair comment, yeah,” Kearns agreed. “Let’s be honest, Cork mugged us here in Páirc Uí Rinn last summer. It was juvenile of us to leave them get a goal after we had gotten one so late that night, even though we did something similar here tonight, but it wasn’t as crucial.

“They’re learning. The more high-tempo games they play, hopefully that will help in that regard.

“There was a few of them here when Tipp got to Division 2 the last time, but they were relegated with five points.

“They know that they have got to perform when they are up here. They understand that they have to prove they belong.

Tipperary manager Liam Kearns during last Saturday's Allianz Football League Division 2 clash. Pic: Sportsfile

“Our goal is to consolidate our position in Division 2 and we’ll hopefully do that.

“You will probably need six to eight points to do it so we need to win three more games to achieve that.

“Every game is very tough in this division, though. Still, this is a great start,” Kearns said.

The Premier managed the game, particularly in the second half, better than a generally inexperienced Cork outfit.

However, there were many positives for Ronan McCarthy’s unit including the eye-catching contribution of Clonakilty’s Seán White.

The wing-forward, as the season evolves, will become a more polished operator and has bundles of potential.

Tipperary's Bill Maher and Sean White of Cork during last Saturday's Allianz Football League Division 2 clash. Pic: INPHO

He attempted to pull off a number of slick moves, not all of which worked out as he had hoped.

Yet, at this time of year, all people should look for is players with the football intelligence to foresee such passages of play in the first instance. And White certainly stood out in that regard.

Afterwards, captain Ian Maguire agreed White, and the other rookies out to make a pleasing impression, performed admirably.

“They made a great impression, I would agree with that, definitely,” the St Finbarr’s clubman explained. “Ultimately, you go out to win, but there were positives in that display.

“It was unfortunate and disappointing that we lost, but I thought Seán White, Kevin Flahive, Sam Ryan, multiple players put their hands up.

“Look, it is football, and when you make mistakes you get punished. That is what happened in the second half.

“I suppose, too, there was elements of play in the final third that let us down again.

“These, though, are all things that we can take on board. It’s the first league game, after all. Personally, at times, I thought we played very well. We used our pace. We were up and down the pitch.

“Sometimes, we were giving away cheap possession and Tipp put us away. I suppose, would you call it a minor mental breakdown on our part during those moments?

“These are things you just have to learn. You take things from each game. It’s important, though, that we bounce back against Down.

“I have every confidence that we will.”

What was evident, especially in the second half, is that Tipp’s game-management was superior to Cork’s.

Liam Kearns’ outfit were the far more experienced starting 15 on paper, however.

“It definitely seemed that way in the second half. You can put that down to inexperience, but there is still a lot of experience in our squad.

Cork's Ian Maguire in action against Bill Maher of Tipperary during last Saturday's Allianz Football League Division 2 clash. Pic: Sportsfile

“These lads have played at minor and U21 with Cork and know how to play the game, even if this is a major step up again.

“I just think they got on top of us around the breaks for those little periods when we gave away cheap possession.

“As a player you have to recognise these things and learn from them.

“Tipp held on to possession and sucked out our momentum.

“That is definitely something we need to take note of. But there are positives and negatives to games like these.

“We just need to find more ways of digging out results, ultimately,” Maguire mused.

Maguire’s form has been exemplary in the last few months which has, of course, lead to the southsider earning the captaincy for this league campaign.

However, the youngster stressed he needs to perform in a more accomplished fashion himself than he did last Saturday.

“To be honest, I don’t think I was particularly great out there now. I had a lot of turnovers.

“Look, it is obviously great to be captain. But I want to be a winning captain, make no bones about it.

“We’re going to turn this around. It was disappointing here tonight, but we’ll go up to Down and look forward to that challenge.

“It is the one thing I said about this campaign, that there would be different challenges with each game and you have to take each one of those at face value.

“Personally, I even felt I made a few mistakes in the final third. We’re looking forward now to fixing those issues.

“I see every game as a must-win game. And that is definitely the case now if we want to get promoted.

“These are very winnable games. It’s still all up for grabs in this division,” he added.

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