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Peter Acheson: Tipperary need to set up defensively against Kerry

By Matthew Hurley

Former Tipperary senior footballer Peter Acheson believes that his county have a small chance against Kerry on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Arena at 7pm.

However, for that the unthinkable to happen, Acheson thinks Tipp have to set up defensively to overcome one of the contenders for the All-Ireland Championship.

‘You obviously want to give it a go and see if we can win, but being realistic, they probably have a very slight chance.

‘I will be hoping that they set up somewhat defensively, which is kind of against our ethos in Tipperary.

‘We kind of try to play expansive football as much as we can but I think against this team (Kerry) they need to start kind of cagey we’ll say and get to that water break a point or two up, a point down even.

‘After the water breaks to the second half, try maybe leaving Mikey (Quinlivan) up top with (Conor) Sweeney, just catch them on the break and get the ball into the 2 lads and get a goal or two.’

The Premier County suffered a shock relegation to Division 4 after a defeat to Longford and the captain from their memorable 2016 campaign has a theory on why it happened.

‘Obviously, Division Four isn't where Tipp football want to be or where we should be but for whatever reason, even when I was playing, our league never went too well to be honest.

‘We always kind of started slow and got into it near the end of it but the lads this year, you could put it down to injuries.

‘We were missing Micky Quinlivan for a lot of it, Robbie Kiely was missing for all of it, Kev Fahey, Steven O’Brien was in and out, Bill Maher.

‘They’re 5 of our best players and a team like Tipperary can’t be missing two or three of those guys, never mind 5, so I think that was a big consequence.

Last year, Michael Quinlivan and Conor Sweeney were key to their Munster Championship victory in 2020 and Acheson believes they’ll have to be at the forefront again.

‘Starting with the guy’s up front, Sweeney and Mikey both have to be on top form to have any chance.

‘Saying that then, they can't do it all on their own, they need good quality ball coming in.

‘So, the likes of Foxy (Brian Fox), Stevie O’Brien and the Kennedy brothers (Jack, Conal and Colmen), they’d be supplying the ball in.

‘I think if they do play defensively, it'll be a quick ball over the top because you can't leave Kerry enough time to get back, because you're not going to break them down.

‘There’s key players in every team, those five or six would be massive,’ he said.

The match is on in Semple Stadium, and home advantage with a crowd could be massive for the underdogs according to Acheson.

‘It’s always great to play at home. It’s near to impossible to win in Kerry to be honest for us.

‘It's hard for any team in Ireland but being in Semple Stadium obviously would be a little extra at 10, 20 percent for the lads and I’m sure the last year or so was tough going, not playing in front of fans so getting fans back into stadium is great.

‘It’ll add that little extra bit of buzz too, last 10 minutes your legs are dead, with the fans there, you might get that bit of extra energy.’

There is a question about whether Kerry can put it up to Dublin this season. Acheson thinks the answer is a certain yes.

‘I think they’re only team that could topple Dublin,’ he said.

‘I think if they do topple Dublin, I could see them actually moving on and being the next team for next few years, next dynasty if you like.

‘They have youth on their side with a bit of experience, Paul Geaney, Steven O’Brien, David Moran are still there, along with a group of young players coming through.

‘I was watching the Clare game, they were a few points up and got a few goals, just kept going, you could see O’Shea wanted another goal, Clifford wanted more.

‘I can't see them being stopped in Munster. I think they can compete for that All-Ireland Final and that has to be their goal too.’

Despite the odds being stacked against Tipperary, Acheson believes this will be tighter than people think.

‘It’ll definitely be less than 10 points. This Tipp team won't give up.

‘There’s a slight chance, I think if we start well, we’ll give it a shot and then after that, if it's going badly, I know the lads very well, they won't give up.

‘They have a lot of pride in the jersey and in themselves personally, so I think it'll be less than 10 points for sure.’

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