24 May 2022

'It would be a serious achievement to win' - Tipperary football manager Liam Kearns on Armagh game

Liam Kearns

Tipperary football manager Liam Kearns

The 2019 Allianz National Football League Division 2 will cross the halfway stage this weekend with four  fourth round games down for decision, including the trip north by Tipperary to face Armagh.

Before the competition commenced in January it was predicted by most managers and players to be an ultra-competitive division  and so far it has lived up to all expectations. After three games everything is still a possibility for all teams including promotion and relegation, and every  point gathered is hard earned and  precious.

Tipperary find themselves mid table after three fixtures, an opening day loss away to Meath, followed by a home draw in Semple Stadium against Fermanagh and a first win of the campaign also at home on Sunday week last  to Donegal.

Next Sunday Liam Kearns takes his side  to the Athletic Grounds in Armagh in what will be Tipperary’s third league visit to the Orchard County in the past five years.

On the opening day of the Division 3 campaign in 2015 Tipperary, then managed by Peter Creedon, lost narrowly to Armagh by 2-8 to 0-13, in a campaign that ultimately saw the Ulster side promoted.

Two years ago, on the final day of the 2017 Division 3 campaign, it was Tipp’s turn to triumph with Michael Quinlivan scoring 3-1 in a promotion-securing victory on a scoreline of 0-16 to 3-8.

On Sunday next it will be a first meeting of the sides in Division 2 with points at a premium. With Armagh currently occupying one of the two relegation spots and under savage pressure to get a first win, it will be a massive task for Tipperary to get any kind of result.

There are very few patterns emerging thus far in Division 2, but what does stand out is the difficulty of securing away victories and how the onus is certainly on the home side to win. Only Donegal (v Clare) and Kildare (v Cork) have resulted in away wins to date from the 12 matches played. To win on the road is a massive bonus. For Tipp it would be a giant step towards securing their target of Division 2 status.

Tipperary manager Liam Kearns is well aware of the task that lies ahead for his side  on Sunday. 

“Obviously we are big outsiders again with the bookies for this one. The  Athletic Grounds in Armagh is never an easy place to go to pick up points in the league but the last time we were there we took both points and won promotion.  So we know we can win there,” said the Tipp boss, buoyed by an encouraging and  winning display  against  Division 2 favourites Donegal.

“Having said that I would consider Armagh unlucky not to have won their first two matches and they will be fired up for what is their second  game at home. Our games with them are always tight affairs with only a point or two ever separating us in recent times and I would expect Sunday’s game to be similar. Hopefully the point or two will be in our favour even if the bookies clearly don’t believe it will be,” added the Tipp boss.

Armagh drew  their first two games  with Kildare (a) and Clare (h) before losing the last day in Navan to Meath by 2-13 to 0-13. With just two points from three games they sit second from the bottom, but only one point behind three other teams - Clare, Tipperary and Kildare.

 Tipp will line out without the services of many of their top players but Liam Kearns did confirm that “Paul Maher (Kilsheelan) will be available for selection and hopefully will play a part in the game.” It is a chink of light for a panel that has been decimated by injuries of late. 

 “It would be a serious achievement to win it in the circumstances we find ourselves in but we will have a good go at it,” concluded Liam Kearns.

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