Killenaule’s Jimmy Feehan pictured in action against Waterford on Saturday evening. Photo: Eamonn McGee
Tipperary senior football manager Liam Kearns has lashed out at the Munster Council's decision to throw Tipperary under the bus with a six-day turnaround - the only team in the country being forced to do so. As widely expected the Tipperary senior footballers overcame Waterford at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Saturday evening to book themselves a semi-final berth against Cork at the same venue on Saturday, May 26th (7pm).
Liam Kearns was in fuming form on Saturday night despite his side’s earlier victory over Waterford by 0-20 to 0-9 in the Munster Senior Football Championship quarter-final at Semple Stadium, Thurles.
The win over the Déise puts Tipperary into a semi-final against Cork in just seven days’ time, but Liam Kearns lambasted the Munster Council, or more particularly the Munster CCC, who he considers have now given the Rebels a distinct advantage over Tipperary by forcing his side to play again so soon again.
When questioned on this six-day turnaround and what he thought of the decision, the Kerry man did not hold back in expressing exactly what he felt about it.
“It’s a disgrace, an absolute disgrace,” Liam Kearns started.
“I think the integrity of the competition has been compromised. I think Cork have now got an advantage over us. It should be a level playing field. It’s a six-day turnaround and the stats show that the teams with a six-day turnaround don’t win. But we are determined - it is not going to be won in a committee room, it’s not going to be won by a committee and it’s not going to be won in a boardroom; it’s going to be won out there in the field (Semple Stadium). And, we’ll be here in six days’ time and Cork better turn up ready to play because we will be here to play.”
When further pressed on the matter Liam Kearns added: “It’s an absolute disgrace. I don’t know how they came up with the decision and that’s being straight and honest. A year’s planning and at the stroke of a pen they put it all into jeopardy”.
KEPT HIS POWDER DRY
Obviously, with his team having to face Waterford the Tipperary manager did not want to say too much beforehand and kept his powder dry to a large degree, but under the stand at Semple Stadium he let it fly at the Munster Council over the decision.
Liam Kearns continued: “Again, I couldn’t say too much about it before this, but now I can say what I want to say about it. They could have played it on the original date and they could have played it on the Bank Holiday Monday. They said the players didn’t want to play it. They don’t want to play on a Bank Holiday Monday, but if my fellows were told it was a six-day turnaround or a Bank Holiday Monday they would have played on a Bank Holiday Monday.
“And the elephant in the room - they could have played it on the ninth or tenth of June which is two weeks before the Munster final and two weeks before a qualifier. So, Cork would have had two weeks if they won - and two weeks is a lot and so would we - and that should have been the date if they were going to move it from the weekend they did. But they didn’t.”
Liam Kearns had the Munster Council in his sights now and went on to add: “The CCC in Croke Park are playing the Leinster and Munster senior hurling finals on the same day and one of the reasons they said is that they want to avoid six-day turnarounds for football teams. So, what is the disconnect between Munster and Croke Park? Will somebody explain that to me? If they think it is worth playing those two finals on that day then how did the Munster Council decide to throw us under the bus or the Munster CCC I should say.
“There are nine teams in Ulster, there are twelve teams in Leinster and there’s six in Munster and yet they have to throw us out twice in seven days. If we win or Cork win there will be a month to the final. There is no redeeming feature to this decision by the Munster CCC or the Munster Council. They have been totally unfair to the Tipperary players and the advantage is with Cork and what should be a level playing field and a Munster semi-final between two evenly matched teams is now totally in their favour and that’s a fact. It’s wrong, it’s wrong, it’s absolutely wrong,” added Kearns.
The Tipperary manager then drew an analogy with horse racing: “If you go to racing parlance. Say it’s a group race and all the horses are equal. Now what they have made it is a handicap and Tipperary is carrying the weight and they are giving advantage to all the rest of the horses in the field,” remarked a less than happy Tipperary boss.
In an attempt to get back to the matter of the team itself and how they might prepare for the up-coming Cork game, Kearns was still in no mood to let go of the bone.
“Our focus now is on recovery because it has to be. We have to recover now. It doesn’t matter when you play a championship game and you have six days to recover from it you can do nothing only recover from it and get back on the field again in six days’ time. We are playing a fresh team,” Liam Kearns said.
“Cork have had five clear weeks with their players and I know that that is the case, they have had their players for five clear weeks. We had ours for thirteen days. We couldn’t play a challenge match thirteen days before this match. So, we had ours for thirteen days and we have a six-day turnaround and yet Cork had it for five weeks.
“Again the story here is that this club month is supposed to be in all the counties and being treated equally. All the counties are not being treated equally. This was very, very wrong; totally wrong. As I said there is no redeeming feature for the Munster Council or the Munster CCC in this and I would love to hear them come out and explain it to everybody why we are the only team in the country being asked to play twice in seven days in the provincial system. It’s rubbish,” added Kearns.
Indeed, Liam Kearns invited the group of journalists present to consider the decision for themselves: “Go figure it out yourselves now - why this decision has been made or how it came about. I am not going to cross the ts and dot the is, but it is wrong and it is really, really wrong. And, I am really fed up for my players. My players are working really, really hard and all they want is a level playing field. That’s all we want anytime we go out on the field - just a level playing field and we did not get that, simple as that,” concluded the Tipperary senior football manager.