Alan Campbell - the Moyle Rovers and Tipperary defender came in for some deserved praise from his manager Liam Kearns.
Following on from the win over Meath on Saturday night last at Semple Stadium in Thurles, Tipperary football manager Liam Kearns was very pleased with his side’s victory but perhaps even more so with the performance which goes a long way towards consolidating his side’s status in Division 2 for next year.
Post-match, he started by describing the game saying
“That was a four-pointer tonight and I suppose we are now one win away from consolidating our place in Division 2. I was very very disappointed with the performance against Clare, all of us, and I take a lot of the blame for that as obviously I didn’t have their mindset right for that game. We came out with a point we didn’t deserve. But we played really well out here against Roscommon and got mugged and lost two points. Look, it’s swings and roundabouts but I am happy with that performance (v Meath). Overall we’ve been performing well and we deserved to win the game tonight and we got our two points so we are happy with that.
Asked about the improvement from the Clare game Liam Kearns went on to say...
“We did do a lot of work - the management had to get it right and the players had to get it right. We knew after the Clare match we had to turn up here ready to do the business and we went at it from the very start.
“I would have to say that Meath caused us a few problems in the first 20 minutes, but once we got to grips with what they were about we looked like winning the game but you still have to go out and do it. (Kearns’ switching of Brian Fox to a sweeper role played a huge part in changing the pattern of the game).
“At the start of the second half they got within three points of us again and we had to go and win the game again. And in fairness the lads kept going. They are learning lessons all the time and that is what it’s about,” added a greatly relieved manager.
On the performances of his players he said.
“I thought Liam Casey had a great game in the middle of the field as well. Steven O’Brien, certainly, had a good game, but I thought the two midfielders were very good.”
“I thought Robbie Kiely and Brian Fox were excellent also and Alan Campbell - if there is a better defender in the country than Alan Campbell I haven’t seen him so. That’s my point of view, that’s what I thought. I thought it was a good all-round performance by the team. You don’t want to go picking out individuals. I suppose all the plaudits go to players like Michael Quinlivan and Conor Sweeney so often, but I thought there were an awful lot of players outside of them that stood up tonight,” added the Kerryman.
“I was delighted with John Meagher - he is only settling in now and getting games now. I thought he had a great game tonight and I am delighted for him. He is very versatile as well you can play him in the full-back line and in the half-back line too. I was very happy with him as that was only his third senior inter-county game. He has been injured and we have got him right and I am delighted for him and I hope he stays injury-free,” added the Tipp manager.
Looking ahead to the Louth game on Sunday next (12.30 pm) with the hurling clash of Tipp v Cork to follow at 2.30 pm, Kearns had this to say….
“If we win that we will have consolidated our position in Division 2 with two games to go and that’s what we set out to do. So, that’s another big game for us. Louth came here last year and beat us when promotion was on the line - kicked our arses by four or five points. We know it will be another tough game - there are no easy games in this Division and that’s the reality of it. We have just got to keep going until we have consolidated our position in the division,” warned Kearns.
“We have not won back-to-back games in Thurles in the three years that I have been here. So, we will certainly be doing our utmost to back this performance up next Sunday,” he went on to add.
But he was happy to have finally got a vital home win in Thurles….
“We are not happy with our home form - that pitch should suit us, I mean Croke Park suits us. All of the big pitches suit us, but why we are not winning in Thurles?. I felt very sorry for the players against Roscommon because they played and did enough to win - the performance was good enough. In fairness to Roscommon they mugged us in the end. They (Tipp) learned the lesson and if you are learning lessons you can only improve. But I am delighted that we have won a game against serious opposition in Thurles."
And I put it to him that a win against Louth would set Tipp up nicely going up North for the final two games against Down and Cavan…..
“We are not concerned about that. I want to consolidate in Division 2. The thing about going to Division 1 is there is no point going up there and being beaten in six or seven games and coming straight back down. If you want to go up to Division 1 you have to be able to compete up there. And the other thing there is, so many teams go up to Division 1 and they train their behinds off to be ready to try and survive in Division 1 and then they do nothing in the championship.
“And you’ve got to really look hard at whether you want to be there. I am not dismissing it or anything like that but we are getting good competitive games here. We are building towards the championship and that is what you want. Whereas if you go to Division 1 you are going to be under pressure. Galway have managed to stay up there this year, Kildare look like they could be coming back down. And I hope I am not saying that prematurely I am sure Kildare will try. But that is the reality of it, it is a revolving door, two go up and they come back down again and I don’t see any point in doing that. We are not going to consider or think about Division 1 until we have done what we need to do in Division 2, concluded the Tipp manager.