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How A Dublin Legend Got Involved With The Tipp Footballers

How A Dublin Legend Got Involved With The Tipp Footballers

When David Power asked Paddy Christie to be part of his Tipperary backroom team, he was pushing an open door. It had been left ajar by an impromptu conversation which the Tipperary manager had with the former Dublin footballer years earlier.

"I was looking to contact Charlie McKeever, who was looking after the Tipperary minors when I was looking after the Dublin minors," says Christie, speaking at the launch of AIB's 'The Toughest Season' photobook.

"[Charlie's] an awful man for answering his phone. I couldn't get in contact with him to get a challenge game. So I got David Power's number from somebody and I rang him.

"Needless to we had a good chat about Tipperary football and about Dublin and about Ballymun. All sort of things. I just really warmed to him. I just thought he was a really good football man. He cared an awful lot, which is a word I use a lot about schools and clubs. People care about what you know when they know how much you care. He cares an awful lot about Tipperary. It's in his blood. Particularly the footballers.

"He gave me the number, Charlie still didn't answer! If you know Charlie, he wouldn't be bothered. He'd just say I'm a low level guy - he only answers to a few of the big people, presidents of the US and that sort of thing.

"But David and myself had a long chat that day. And I remember thinking to myself, 'That's a really, really good guy'. When he came back to me last year and asked me to get involved, I think we just had a bond straight away.

"That bond that we have has developed needless to say. You'd just think to yourself, you'd love to see Tipperary do well for Tipperary, the players, and the likes of him. It pushes you on. He deserved his day in the sun. He had one big day in 2011, and it was great for him to have that day last week against Cork."

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Former Dublin footballer and current Tipperary selector Paddy Christie at the launch of AIB's The Toughest Season photobook, a pictorial account of how hurling, football and camogie communities came together to support one another throughout one of the toughest years in history. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

It was early October last year when Christie agreed to be part of the Tipp management team. He did so despite already having a full plate. He's principal of Kilcoskan National School in North Dublin and manages the DCU Sigerson team.

Christie's strong Tipperary connections helped Power's case. Into his late teens, the Ballymun man spent his summers with relations in Lorrha. He's also friendly with former Tipperary All-Star footballer Declan Browne.

"I sort of just thought I'd see how it would go, give it a year and hope that we could improve a little bit, to put a strong set-up in place, and hopefully in years to come something would happen," says Christie.

Their first management meeting took place at the Horse and Jockey in Thurles. Promotion to Division 2 of the National League was identified as the main target. As it turned out, they were closer to taking a step down the league ladder than one up.

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There have been brighter signs for ending 85-year droughts but that is what Tipperary did in the Munster final against Cork. This Sunday, when they face Mayo in the All-Ireland semi-final, Tipperary will look to go a step further than they did four years ago when they faced the same opposition in the last four.

If they do so, Power's willingness to surround himself with good people, will have been key.

"The nature of David is fundamentally it's never about him which I really like," says Christie.

"You always get the impression that he's doing things for the best interests of Tipperary football. As long as that's the case then it's not hard to create core values in a group and create a culture because the seeds have been planted at the top.

"Whether we like it or not the people who are at the top of the chain, the people in charge, must show leadership and a good example. For me, David has exemplified what a team spirit is, what core values are and what Tipperary football means.

"A lot of the time he delegates responsibility to other people, he'd get more publicity if he likes but he's always trying to spread it around. He's always talking about how good other people are to work with and talking about our dietician Eamon Maguire, we've a physio there Ronan Crosse and Stephen McGrath as well in the medical backroom set-up and how they're getting people back on the pitch.

"Always talking about other people rather than talking about himself. For me, that was a very, very important thing. I'd like to think I'd be that way inclined myself and as long as you've people who are interested in what's best for Tipperary football, then the footballers themselves will be unselfish and make good decisions. And you'll hopefully have a team that's bereft of an ego then as such that it's all about what's best for Tipperary."

Inspired by the strength of spirit within Gaelic Games communities, AIB partnered with Sportsfile, the GAA and the Camogie Association, to publish The Toughest Season, which captures in 120 images the resilience of clubs, fans, and communities before, during and after the COVID 19 lockdown. All proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the AIB Together Fund supporting Age NI, Alone, FoodCloud, Soar and Pieta House. For exclusive content and to see why AIB are backing Club and County follow us @AIB_GAA on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.

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