Conor Sweeney insists Tipperary believe they can compete with Kerry this Saturday night and will carry the mentality of reigning Munster SFC champions into their Semple Stadium clash.

Tipp ended an 85-year wait for provincial football glory last November with a brilliant performance at Páirc Uí Chaoimh to beat Cork.

It was a glorious winter for the Premier County but a barren spring followed as they suffered the drop to Division 4.

Now, they're preparing to face a red-hot Kingdom side in a Munster semi-final that will welcome up to 3,500 fans after it was confirmed the game has been selected as a test event.

Sweeney is targeting a passionate response to a rocky couple of months.

"A lot of teams going in to play the top teams are probably beaten before they even take to the field, so we've a job to do mentally to prepare ourselves for what's coming," said Sweeney at AIB's All-Ireland SFC launch.

"You need to cling onto straws, to anything that's going. We're reigning Munster champions, that's one thing we have. Albeit it's something new that we're not used to, but you need to take that confidence into the game.

"It's on in Thurles which is another small nugget, there might be a bit of a crowd in which might give us a lift. Other than that we need to drive home the message that we believe in what we're doing in training, we believe we can compete against them. All we're looking for is to give ourselves a chance to beat them.

"We know how tough it's going to be. They're the in-form team at the moment. They're playing some of the best football they've ever played. And very few people will give us a chance but we'll be quietly confident hoping that we can put in a performance that's actually worthy of competing against Kerry at this point in time.

"Some of the football they're playing is absolutely frightening at the moment. They've got that bit between their teeth for sure this year."

Sweeney is desperate to give it a real lash this weekend but he's also realistic enough to know this is a seriously big ask for his side. Kerry have won the last 43 football championship encounters between the counties and are highly fancied to make it 44.

If Tipp are beaten, they will play in the tier two championship Tailteann Cup next year but Sweeney has no qualms about dropping down if that is to be their fate.

"I'm all for it. I think it is what the championship needs. I think if you’re good enough to play in the All-Ireland and compete for Sam Maguire then you’re good enough to be there. If you’re not then you’re in the Tailteann Cup.

"If any team complains about that, then just go and get out of Division 4, get out of Division 3 and prove to people that you’re good enough to compete for Sam Maguire. I’ve absolutely no problem with it. I think the championship needs it, the game needs it.

"I think the gap between the best teams and the teams at the bottom is just too big. You look at the results that have gone by on the opening weekend.

"There’s a lot of teams taking hammerings so I think it’s as clear as ever that there needs to be at least two divisions and I’m all for it anyway whatever way it goes.

"I just hope they keep the provincials that’s all I would say on it. I think there were two proposals that came up and I’d be for the one keeping the provincials, either moving it earlier in the season to springtime so you can still play your Munster and Leinster championships and then maybe have your two-tiered All-Ireland - that’s the way I would go about it anyway."

Follow all the championship matches this weekend with our live blogs on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app.

Watch Leitrim v Mayo and Derry v Donegal live on RTÉ2 (from 1.30 pm Sunday) and see highlights of all the weekend's action on The Sunday Game at 9.30pm on RTÉ One.

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