Liam Kearns able to call on all of Tipperary side that saw off Derry challenge for Galway
TIPPERARY football boss Liam Kearns will be able to call on all 18 players who featured in the game-of-the-season win over Derry for Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter-final clash with Galway.
In fact, the only members of his panel who are likely to be unavailable to the former Limerick and Laois boss for the Croke Park tie are attacking duo Ian Fahey and Shane O’Connell, who also missed out on the fourth round Qualifier victory over the Oak Leaf county at Kingspan Breffni Park last Saturday.
“A few of the lads picked up bumps and bruises and some had to come off in the Derry game because of cramp, but that’s par for the course,” said Kearns, whose charges bounced back in sparkling fashion from the Munster final defeat by Kerry.
“So for the Galway game, we could have the same 15 players starting as we had for our last three games [Derry, Kerry and Cork].”
In the case of Fahey and O’Connell, Kearns said: “Both Ian and Shane are suffering from stress fractures of the foot and, while I wouldn’t totally rule Ian out of being available for the Galway game, I’d say that it will be another few weeks before Shane will be available for selection.
“If they were fit, both players would be definitely be in strong contention for a place in the first 21.”
For a team which won only two of their seven games in Division Three of the Allianz National League, Tipperary’s impressive march to the last-eight stage of the Championship will have taken a lot of football followers by considerable surprise.
But Kerry native Kearns, who took over at the Premier county helm from Cork man Peter Creedon last November, insists his side’s undistinguished run in the secondary competition failed to temper his optimism for this year’s Championship campaign.
“As well as winning two matches, we also drew three and we were in a shout for promotion heading into the last match of the league,” pointed out the 1980 All-Ireland minor medalist.
“In addition, we were missing the Clonmel Commercials players [involved in the All-Ireland Club semi-final against eventual winners Ballyboden St Enda’s] and we had a number of players who were unavailable to us because of various injuries.
“So I knew we would have a much stronger team for the Championship and, while I mightn’t have expected us to go as far as the All-Ireland quarter-finals, I felt that we could have a decent campaign.”