Liam Kearns: It's incumbent on the Tipperary county board to build on "strong foundation"

The Tipperary footballers came within three points of an All-Ireland final this evening as they lost out to Mayo

Liam Kearns

Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Grealy 

Tipperary manager Liam Kearns was gracious in defeat this afternoon, as his side ran Mayo within three points of an All-Ireland final.

A devastating period just before break, however, left the Munster finalists with too much ground to make up on their Connacht counterparts. They did produce a spirited second half performance to keep them in contention.

"Very disappointed and very proud of the effort of the players, especially in the second half," he told Newstalk Sport's Oisin Langan. "I thought they put in a massive effort and played football the way gaelic football should be played. They went down like men and that's all any manager can ever ask for. 

"Fair play to Mayo, they're finally getting the rub of the green and maybe it'll take them to an All-Ireland, something that everyone would like to see them win and I hope it does [sic]." 

Kearns explained that perhaps his side were suffered as a result of some contentious decisions that went against them today. Tipperary lost Robbie Kiely to a black card within the first ten minutes and the Bill Maher was dismissed for an off the ball incident in the second half. 

"I think maybe the depth of our resources caught up with us today, we picked up two injuries to two backs and we lost Robbie [Kiely] to a black card. All of those were severe setbacks. I think we were a bit disorganised in the last 10 minutes of the first half, when they scored 1-7 and that was the winning and losing of the game. 

"Kiely was a big loss because he's an important player for us. Those six [defenders] have played together all year. We've been very fortunate to get the same 15 players on the game for five games in a row. You'd have to be afraid that it would catch up on us at some stage and it did." 

Robbie Kiely is shown a black card during the first half of today's All-Ireland semi-final clash with Mayo at Croke Park this evening. Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Grealy

Tipperary struggled to gain control of the game during the lead-up to the halftime whistle, but he said that they were able to set themselves once again during the break, which helped them push forward to cut Mayo's lead.

"We got a little bit overrun in the middle third for the only time in the game. We really took control of the middle third and then we came out in the second half and took it back. We bossed them for most of the 20 minutes of the second half and they couldn't get it past the halfway line. We just didn't get the amount of scores that they got. 

"The experienced team, they knew when their opportunity was there and they took it. That's why they won the match."

He also acknowledged the progress Tipperary football and in particular the progress his side have made over the course of the year, citing the changes so-called bigger teams have made to counter their attacking threat.

"Kerry took us very seriously and Mayo took us very seriously and I suppose that's the compliment. We're a Division 3 team and nobody rated us before this year so to have Kerry play a sweeper against us in Killarney and for Barry Moran to be playing sweeper today, it says an awful lot about my players. 

"It's over to Tipperary football now and the Tipperary county board to build on this strong foundation which has been put in place this year. You really have to make it stronger and it's incumbent upon everybody to ensure that Tipperary are back in Munster finals and back in the last eight of the All-Ireland and back in Croke Park in the next tow to three years again."