David Power has been talking his team up throughout this Championship campaign, and he’s hardly going to stop now.
The Tipperary manager’s bullishness ahead of the Munster final raised some eyebrows, as he insisted that his players would have no fear of Cork when most managers would embrace the underdog status as they chased a first provincial title in 85 years.
And he’s not changing his tune as they face Mayo in Croke Park on Sunday bidding to reach a first All-Ireland final since 1920.
A number of their players won an All-Ireland minor title against the head under Power’s tutelage in 2011, while they were highly competitive against Mayo in the senior semi-final in 2016 and again in a qualifier tie two years later.
“Croke Park won’t hold any fear for Tipperary,” Power insists. “In 2018 in the qualifier in Thurles, Mayo got a very fortunate goal that day and Tipp were leading the whole way up to that goal.
“There have been a few small things that went in Mayo’s favour over the last two games so Croke Park won’t hold any fear, I think we can really grow into Croke Park and the players like playing there.
“We won’t fear Mayo. I believe in this Tipperary football team that if we get a performance, that we’ll be very close to Mayo come Sunday.
“There is no point going into a game if you think you are going to be beaten. I certainly don’t think that way and the players don’t think that way. If we get a performance we have every chance on Sunday.”
He added: “I would say we can go up another level. I wouldn’t call our performance in the Munster final a perfect performance. Our players are not happy, they feel they can really improve.
“We have to get better in order to beat Mayo but I feel that performance is in us. I don’t want to be coming out and saying the Cork game was our perfect performance because it wasn’t because I know there is more gears in this Tipperary team.”
Power says he has been humbled by the reaction to the historic victory over Cork, with messages flooding in from all over Ireland.
“To be honest with you, some of the phone calls and texts that I got, from all corners of the country, from players that won several All-Irelands down in Kerry, and the big satisfaction that I'm really taking from it was that it was great to win, but that it was our style of play that has really appealed to the public.
“That we played football, and that's always been my thing, even going back to the minor team.
“There's a couple of 90-year-olds who rang me as well, and they were in tears. They never thought they'd see the day, to see a Tipperary winning a Munster senior football championship and for me it's a great honour to be leading the ship in many ways.”
Other counties have enjoyed landmark provincial breakthroughs in recent decades and ultimately failed to build on it and Power is determined that Tipp reap the benefits of their success this year.
Defections have weakened them in recent years but keeping this group together is critical.
“I was asked a question about Clare having huge success in 1992, Leitrim as well. We must learn from that and we must strive to actually improve.
“For us to improve, this core group of players must stick together because they're only coming into their prime. They're only 26/27 years of age. There's another four or five really, really good years left in them.
“So if this group can stick together I'm really hopeful of big things ahead over the next couple of years for Tipperary football.”
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