The Tony Considine column: Tipp are setting a savage pace in every game

The Tony Considine column: Tipp are setting a savage pace in every game
Cathal Malone is harried by Ronan Maher. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

IT’S a long time since I have seen as big a crowd in Ennis, as I did on Sunday.

From early morning in Ennis there was a great buzz, the usual bit of banter being exchanged. We always like to give Tipperary a good welcome in Ennis.

You could even say we roll out the carpet for them, but I think at the weekend we went far beyond that, especially on the field of play.

When both teams came onto the field, even in the warm-up, you could see that Tipp were really up for it, looking very sharp and very athletic. If you were going by the body language, which a lot of people do, they really looked the part, and were very tuned in with their four coaches working with them: Liam Sheedy, Tommy Dunne, Darragh Egan and Eamon O’Shea.

Clare, to me, looked sluggish and pedestrian in what they were doing. Not a way to go into any match, but definitely not the way when you are facing Tipperary in the Munster Championship.

The body language didn’t lie when the ball was thrown in. Tipperary were all over Clare like a rash.

This should not be happening in your home games, from a Clare point of view, Clare waiting for things to happen, Tipperary making them happen.

That was a big difference.

Tipperary had leaders everywhere, none more so than Noel McGrath and his brother John, who scored 1-6 between them in the first half.

John McGrath nails a point. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
John McGrath nails a point. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

They were backed up by the excellent Brendan Maher, Bonner Maher, Seamus Callinan, and that great warrior, Pádraic Maher, all playing very direct hurling, the way it should be played, physically dominating the opposition and brilliant wrist work.

They completely dominated Clare. They are gone back to the old Tipp values here, with skill and steel, both qualities a must, and most important, and fair play to Liam Sheedy. They’ve a completely different attitude, no comfort zones being allowed for these guys.

Management have to take the credit for that. Not allowed to rest on their laurels here.

It’s a long time since Clare were beaten by so much and as easy in a Munster championship game, and especially in Ennis. If you’re not up for Tipp in your home venue, then who are you going to be up for?

Clare’s big players, or supposed big players, were not at the races and took some seriously bad options with their use of the ball. They played like a team just picked after Mass on Sunday, not like a team that has been together for a few years, individuals, everyone thinking of themselves and not the team.

Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

And here the buck stops with Donal Maloney and Jerry O’Connor. They are with these guys for a long time now, some since their minor days and definitely at U21 level, but it seems like they have let things slip. Even since last year when they could have beaten Galway in the All Ireland semi-final.

They are a long way off of that now. Sometimes managers can get too familiar with players and can go soft on them.

The one thing Clare could always do was have the stomach for battle - that did not happen in this game - only one team had that, and the score reflects it.

As I have said before, managers have got to set the tone for battle. Liam Sheedy is well able to do that, but Donal and Jerry failed in this department.

Peter Duggan, John Conlan, two All-Stars from last year, did not show the way and the management were kind to them to leave them on for so long. Shane O’Donnell, who was also withdrawn, and of course Tony Kelly, who was well-marshalled by Brendan Maher, were under pressure too.

Tipperary’s Cathal Barrett blotted out Shane O’Donnell of Clare on Sunday. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Tipperary’s Cathal Barrett blotted out Shane O’Donnell of Clare on Sunday. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

Tony has a habit of retreating back the field to his defence when he is being marked out of a game, while he should be staying up front where he would be more beneficial to his team. Is he playing to orders or is he doing that himself?

Podge Collins was well marked and proved ineffective after a bright start.

One man I have to single out for Clare, who gave his all, was Cathal Malone. He fought to the bitter end, but he was fighting a lone battle at times. Colm Galvin also tried hard.

Where we expected the siege of Ennis for Tipperary, we gave them the freedom of Ennis! Things are not looking good for Clare now who will be taking on Limerick in their next game in the Gaelic Grounds.

The big question after this weekend, with Limerick way too good for Waterford, was how many good matches have we seen in this Munster championship so far?

Peter Casey spins away from Conor Gleeson of Waterford at Walsh Park. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Peter Casey spins away from Conor Gleeson of Waterford at Walsh Park. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Apart from Cork and Limerick, I think the rest have been white-washes with teams winning very easily. Definitely no way as competitive as it was last year with some exceptionally tight games.

Tipperary, as I said before, are in the fast lane now, and are basically in a Munster final, and looking good. They have a rest next week, but that was a huge victory.

Cork and Waterford next week, along with Limerick and Clare. More about that on Friday.

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