Tipperary manager David Power. Photo: Bridget Delaney

Power admits Tipp O’Riordan boost to

If Tipperary are to win their first Munster senior football title in 85 years on Sunday, Cork’s Mark Keane could have played a major part in it, in more ways than one.

By Shane Brophy

If Tipperary are to win their first Munster senior football title in 85 years on Sunday, Cork’s Mark Keane could have played a major part in it, in more ways than one.

While the Aussie Rules convert was the talk of Cork last week following his last gasp goal in defeating Kerry in the Munster semi-final, his heroics found their way back to Australia where they inadvertently managed to soften the approach of Sydney Swans who have after a number of rebuttals, have given Colin O’Riordan a chance to play against him in the final for Tipperary.

The change of heart from Sydney Swans to allow the former Tipperary underage star to be available for selection for the Munster Final, has undoubtedly given the chances of the Premier County winning a first Munster title since 1935 a massive boost.

O’Riordan last played senior football for Tipperary in 2015 but since the end of the Aussie Rules campaign in September, has been training with the county squad during the off-season and has been at all four of their league and championship games so far, despite not being allowed permission to play, until now.

“Seven days before the Offaly match, Colin did try to make himself available for all the League matches,” revealed Tipperary manager David Power.

“But at that moment in time Sydney Swans wouldn’t release him so to be fair to Colin he was probably emailing the head coach every week because as we were winning he was getting itchy feet, even though he was with Charlie McGeever on the side-line during the matches.

“It came to a head on Sunday evening (after Cork beat Kerry). He made a phone-call and he basically got onto the joint-captains of Sydney Swans and between the joint-captains of Sydney Swans and the head coach, they agreed to let Colin play.

“We are very thankful to Sydney Swans because he’s obviously under contract so we are very grateful for allowing Colin to play but, I suppose, to be fair to Colin, it was his determination and that’s one of his biggest qualities on the field, he wanted to play and he wanted to play for the last number of weeks and he was getting more and more frustrated so it’s great. It’s great for the panel. We now have another player available for selection, which is great.”

While it is a boost to have a player of Colin’s calibre available for such a huge game for Tipperary football, David Power had to be careful that O’Riordan’s availability didn’t destabilise the panel as it will more the likely mean someone dropping out of the starting line-up, as well as someone not being part of the match-day panel and therefore won’t be able to travel to Cork on Sunday.

Power said: “I would have spoken to the team captain and obviously to our leadership group. Most of our panel have played with Colin and, they know how much of a Tipp football man he is. So, between talking to Conor and the leadership group, they were more than pleased to see Colin be available.

“Obviously, there's going to be huge competition for the 26 but you've probably noticed that our 26 has changed every weekend and that's down to the highly competitive internal matches that we have on a Wednesday night. And that was to the fore last night (Wednesday). Our training session was excellent because lads want to be part of it, lads want to be on the 26. So, from a management point of view it's great but there's also a great headache there now. But look, that's a great headache to have, that we have that competition now on the 26.”

Not only has Power to cope with the increased expectation that this could be Tipperary’s year and ensuring his team are focused on the task of beating Cork, comes with the game being played on the weekend of the centenary of Bloody Sunday when Tipperary footballer Michael Hogan was one of fourteen people killed at Croke Park on 21st November 1920 during a football match against Dublin.

Earlier in the year, Tipperary would have been planning to play Dublin in an commemorative game on that date, wearing the green and white jerseys worn on that fateful day, now they will be wearing those jerseys with even more at stake in a Munster Final.

“We just have to get the balance right. You can get too emotional about it as well,” said Power about using Bloody Sunday as an extra motivational tool for his players.

“After the Limerick game I got a phone-call asking us if we would like to wear the green and white jersey. Again, we tapped into the leadership group and the two words that came back were it would be an “honour” and a “privilege” to wear that jersey,” he said.

“It’s brilliant to see that we are respecting the one hundred year anniversary and will tap into a bit of it but we won’t go overboard as ultimately it is about the Munster Final and it is about us performing and that’s what it is about, we have to get a performance that hopefully can beat Cork and that is what we are striving for.”

And the Tipperary manager is confident that his team will turn up and play to their best on Sunday.

“We will get a performance,” he stressed.

“And if we get a performance, we will have a very good chance of against Cork. That’s the key message I said to the lads last night at training that we are not to leave Cork on Sunday without producing a performance. If a performance isn’t good enough, we will put our hands up but if we do, it will be a very tight game.

“Our best game pre-Covid, even though we lost, was against Cork in the league and I thought we were very good that night.”