Monday 24 October 2016

O'Halloran sees 'no point stopping now' for Tipp's heroes

Tipperary forward Kevin O’Halloran.
Tipperary forward Kevin O’Halloran.

Tipperary footballers have reached a giddy watershed that no one of sane mind could have contemplated at the start of 2016 ... but there is no reason to stop now, according to Kevin O'Halloran.

The Portroe marksman contributed four points to Tipp's stunning demolition of Galway on Sunday, propelling them into a first All-Ireland SFC semi-final in 81 years.

They will start as underdogs against Tyrone or Mayo on August 21 - a familiar and probably welcome position.

But O'Halloran is adamant that they won't be coming along for the ride.

"There is no point in stopping now. We have to go out and try and win," he declared.

"There's no point saying, 'Ah sure, we're after getting to a semi-final and that'll do us'. We have to go out and stay going forward and see where it takes us."

Easier said than done, especially given the track record of fairytale football journeys that tend to go so far (Clare in '92, Leitrim in '94, Westmeath in '01, Fermanagh in '04, Wexford in '08) and no further, unable to make that quantum leap into an All-Ireland final.

Now it's Tipp's turn to try and embrace the occasion while keeping their focus.

Describing their route to the last-four as "an absolute roller-coaster", O'Halloran admitted: "it's just unreal stuff, what we are doing."

But his insistence that "a quarter-final was our goal at the start of the year" also hints at the ambition within Liam Kearns' squad, an ambition that perhaps too many opponents and pundits were inclined to overlook. Ciarán McDonald's attitude to Sunday's thrilling performance reinforces that point.

Here was a county playing at a whole new level that had obliterated a provincial champion, scoring 3-13 and creating a multitude more ... but the corner-back still reckoned that Tipp hadn't come close to full potential. "In patches, maybe for five minutes," he ventured. "If we lost the game you'd have to look at a lot of what we did."


In hindsight, McDonald felt it may have been a blessing that they lost to Kerry, having reached the Munster final via that historic win over Cork. There were huge lessons taken from that defeat.

"Ultimately it's hard to be playing in your province with Kerry every year. They have been dominating the All-Ireland series for the last couple of years and I think we kind of realise that," he reflected.

"Especially the fact that we didn't play to our potential in the Munster final. That bogged a lot of us down. We were lucky that we had three weeks to recover from that, mentally as well as physically.

"We just want to get to our full potential, I suppose. I think that's what we're striving to do. No matter what the match is, we just want to play."

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