‘His enthusiasm and passion just stirs something inside of you from listening to the players talking about him’

JOHN EVANS SPELL as Tipperary senior boss ended in the spring of 2012 but he has returned to help shape the county’s club football landscape this season.

John Evans departed as Tipperary senior football manager in 2012.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Brendan Cummins lined out last year with his football club as Ardfinnan flirted with relegation and then has watched on as a supporter this year to witness Evans has made since taking over the south Tipperary club.

After taking down Loughmore-Castleiney, champions three times since 2013, in surprising fashion at the semi-final stage, Ardfinnan have returned to a Tipperary senior football decider since they triumphed in 2005.

“Last year I went back playing football to play in goal for relegation for three matches and this year John Evans arrives on about June time when Wicklow were gone with a view to keeping us out of relegation as much as anything else.

“To say that one (man) has had an influence like that on a parish is just unbelievable, it’s mad stuff what he’s after doing with us, it’s been fantastic. Now we’re in a county final (after) beating Loughmore by a point in a dogfight in Holycross.

“The lads were fantastic and we’re in a county football final with as good a chance as any to beat Moyle Rovers who pipped Commercials in the last minute. It’s big, big stuff for us there’s no doubt about that.”

Tipperary footballer Colm O’Shaughnessy plays for the Ardfinnan club.

Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

A line was drawn under Wicklow’s season after their early June qualifier exit and that freed up time in Evans schedule.

Petey Savage is an Ardfinnan man who has given years of service to Tipperary football and he roped Evans in to help his local club.

“I think Petey Savage might have had something to do with it, I’m not too sure, he would have been involved in the Tipp board and would’ve asked John to come down and see what you can do but I think it’s beyond anyone’s wildest dreams what he’s after doing. He’s a serious man, you talk about what managers can do.

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John Evans was in charge of Wicklow this year.

“(I’m) just a supporter, just waiting to get a call in case any of the goalies get injured to come in. It’s gas because I’ve been talking to a few of the lads who have just been involved in the hurling who said earlier in the year ‘ah I won’t bother playing the football, I’m not sure if they’re going anywhere’ and now they’re all saying ‘Jaysus I said no and now they’re in a county final and they’re getting all the gear, it’s a disaster’.

“The turnaround has been great. Last year we got to a Munster junior club final (with Ballybacon-Grange) and we won a county hurling final for the first time in junior and I think the players are used to winning.

“Evans has tapped into that and he’s got them motivated and playing a lovely brand of football and they’re really in the final on merit and it’s great.”

Brendan Cummins was speaking this week at the launch of the Amanda Stapleton Benefit Match.

Source: Piaras Ó Mídheach/SPORTSFILE

Cummins believes the enthusiasm of Evans has energised the Ardfinnan players ahead of the Semple Stadium showdown with Moyle Rovers.

“His enthusiasm and passion just stirs something inside of you from listening to the players talking about him before games, he just gets something emotional inside of you that makes you be better that you ever thought you could be.

“It’s a bit romantic thing to say that out loud but that’s exactly what he’s doing and he’s got our players absolutely flying.

“I won’t say they’re in the gym every night or they’re doing laps of the field every night, this turnaround has happened since June and really he’s been the driving force and the players have responded.”

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