ON my way into Thurles on Sunday I was talking to a good friend of mine and a Tipperary supporter.
His comment to me was "it's either Croke Park of Croagh Patrick for one of us today."
As a Clareman, I'm glad to say that he'll be climbing the Reek this year, even though it was the best performance from Tipperary in this Munster Championship round robin. At least they performed to the level they are capable of skill wise, but I still think, as I have mentioned several times in this column, there is something really missing from this team.
This hasn't just set in overnight - this is going on for a few years, and it's not improving.
That cutting edge is not there, and a perfect example of that was in this game, especially in the first half when they were dominating Clare all over the pitch - when they had Clare on the rack with some very skillful hurling, and getting some great scores, points especially, they were beating the Clare defenders with a lot of ease.
They went eight points up. It was then I expected the floodgates to open. They allowed Clare back into the game towards the end of the first half by giving away some very silly frees that Peter Duggan took advantage of.
Also, while they were on top, apart from Billy McCarthy's' goal, which he took very well by running at the Clare defense, no other Tipperary forward tested Donal Tuohy in that half, which makes me think that some of these Tipperary forwards didn't want to go through the pain barrier, which is required when you want to score goals.
I always think they like to take the easy option of just putting the ball over the bar. It shows that ruthlessness is missing from this Tipp team and a complete lack of killer instinct, which is something you would not associate with Tipp teams of the past.
I also think Michael Ryan and his management do too much chopping and changing with their team, especially the defence. For instance, James Barry was an All-Star full-back a couple of years ago, but Tipp have tried several people in that position in this championship but not James Barry. I wonder why?
Cathal Barrett was an All-Star corner-back and he played at midfield. Ronan Maher who was an All-Star centre-back was out to midfield too on Sunday and for most of this championship.
All three not playing in their award-winning positions - and this is where Tipp seem to have most of their problems. Maybe they have their reasons, but I would be starting these three in the Tipp defence.
They have a year to think about that one!
When you can't win one championship game out of four, you don't deserve to be in it, and that's where Tipperary are at.
Now to the winning team. People would tell me that I have been very critical of these players in the last number of years, but I believe the way this Clare team has performed since 2013 has not been near good enough, especially in the Munster championship. They have shown a lack of leadership at times and that has cost them.
Everyone knows how talented this bunch of players are, but we have been waiting for them to show more, and to do more with that talent. Well, for the first time in ages they showed the pride and the passion and spirit, but above all the never-say-die attitude that supporters always associated with Clare.
Bodies were put on the line all over the field, especially in the second half, when the Banner Roar started to echo around Thurles - brought us back a few years. And supporters showed how they can react when a team plays with that kind of spirit.
Here a huge score by Jack Brown from his corner-back position really lifted this team and supporters alike.
Podge Collins started buzzing around the place like the Podge we knew. And Ian Galvin took his goal superbly.
Clare got on a roll and credit to Gerry O'Connor and Donal Moloney, making the changes, and the right ones, when they were needed, but above all the response from the players when they could smell blood, they went for it. They knew Tipp were on the ropes and did they punish them!
A few great scores from Peter Duggan and not just from frees either, but from play as well, in the dying minutes of the game. He is a big man, and he delivered when most needed.
And that's the reason why Clare are still in this Championship.
They went through the pain barrier for it. Everything was on the line in this game and they came through with flying colours. They showed real steel when it was needed.
What a derby the next game will be - tickets will be as scarce as hens' teeth - those who get them will be very lucky.
In the other game, Limerick were very easy winners over Waterford. A team improving all the time and playing with a lot of confidence.
At this stage, I think Limerick are the form team in Munster, but like Tipperary, Waterford are out of the Championship, but at least they have excuses with all the injuries they have.
I can't say the same for Tipperary. I'm sure my friend from Tipperary will be praying for his team when he climbs the Reek.
They will need them all. What a wonderful championship so far in Munster, and the best is yet to come.