DOWN manager Paddy Tally has listed Sunday’s opponents Tipperary as one of the top three teams involved in the first round of the All-Ireland Qualifiers.
The Premier county suffered a shock loss to Limerick in the Munster Championship while they were also relegated from Division Two earlier in the season, but Tally is giving the utmost respect to Liam Kearns’s side.
“In the group of the Qualifier teams, I think Tipperary are in the top three,” Tally said.
“They possess a lot of very good players. Maybe their form hasn’t just shown that this last wee while, but they we have to be very ready for a team that have proven that they can compete at a very high level.”
This will be the second championship meeting between the counties with Down winning a 2012 Qualifier encounter on a 1-13 to 0-11 scoreline. Current Mourne coach Benny Coulter grabbed the only goal of the game that day on a windy day in Mullingar.
Since then Tipp have moved from being a Division Four team to a side moving between the second and third tier, have reached a Munster final and famously got to the last four of the All-Ireland three years ago.
They will also easily have much more experience compared to this new young Down team that Tally is putting together.
That was evident in the Ulster Championship extra-time loss to Armagh as a number of Down players made their championship debuts, and Tally is hopeful that they will be better for having that out of their system.
“By the time the boys got back to training on the Tuesday night (after Armagh) they were thinking about the next match,” he said.
“The had a round of club fixtures last weekend but once they got that out of the way it was full steam ahead for the Tipperary match.
“We tried a lot of new players during the league and we gave guys opportunities to show us what they could do.
“Always at the back of your mind you’re thinking that you need to have strength in depth for the championship.
“That’s even more important now when you move into the Qualifiers.
“Let’s hope that we can make our way through a few rounds but it’s very important that players get the chance to play at championship level.
“It was great that we blooded a lot of players against Armagh. That’ll be good for those players moving down the line; they have that out of their system that they have played championship football.
“Now they can focus on developing themselves and understanding that they’re good enough to play.
“Hopefully we can get a performance against Tipperary and if the boys can play up to their level, they can be very competitive.”
The manager has also confirmed that they are no longer appealing Caolan Mooney’s suspension from that match with the Orchard county.
The Rostrevor man was dismissed just before half-time for an apparent high tackle on Aidan Nugent and although TV footage proved inconclusive, the GAA’s Central Hearings Committee deemed the infraction proven.
“It’s disappointing for Caolan to miss out on a game he really wanted to play in,” Tally added.
“These are decisions we have no control over so we just have to get on with it.
“It’s an opportunity for someone else and let’s hope we can play well, get through and have Caolan back for the next round.”