by Daragh Small
Tipperary forward Aishling Moloney says her county must avoid relegation from the TG4 All-Ireland senior championship to maintain their upward trajectory.
Shane Ronayne's side face-off against Waterford in a relegation play-off in Callan today (SAT), 3pm.
Tipperary ran Cork close in the Munster semi-final, before losing out to Kerry in a pivotal All-Ireland qualifier.
Their race for All-Ireland glory ended last time out when one of the favourites for the Brendan Martin Cup, Donegal, claimed a narrow three-point win.
Now Tipperary must win against Waterford to avoid a potential do-or-die clash against either Cavan or Monaghan.
And the 20-year-old Cahir clubwomen knows the importance of this game as the Lidl National Football League Division 2 champions look to preserve their senior status.
"Looking back to last few years, everything we did, winning Division 3 and Division 2 and the intermediate All-Ireland, to get up senior and into Division 1 would have been for nothing," said Moloney.
"We would be back to basics trying to get up senior again. But you want to be up at senior level competing against the best because that is where you are going to learn.
"Even this year I notice the difference in physicality. You only have milliseconds on the ball compared to last year in intermediate.
"Definitely if we weren't successful this weekend it would be sad, but we would go back and start from scratch again."
Tipperary finished second behind Waterford in the Division 2 standings this year, but they claimed a 0-21 to 3-11 win in the decider against Cavan on 6 May.
Moloney has been one of the main scoring threats for her county all year, with 2-15 in the championship so far. And DCU's Gourmet Food Parlour O'Connor Cup winning captain says Waterford will be another tough test.
"Waterford are a very tough team. They are our rivals here in Munster. I played them in a Division 3 league replay a few years ago and ever since then they have been rivals," said Moloney.
"We came across them in a league and they beat us that day. We expect them to be a tough team like they always are and there will be nothing between us in the end. But hopefully we will come out on the better side of it.
"Starting out this year our aim was just to stay up in Division 2. We didn't think we would be in this position to progress further. We ended up winning the league.
"And we had no expectations for the senior championship, we were hoping to win just one game and prevent a relegation battle but that didn't go to plan.
"But looking back on it, it would be a good year for Tipperary football if we stay up."Tweet