Nicky English on Tipp v Clare from The Irish Times

Tipp’s triple salvo the undoing of brave Clare

NICKY ENGLISH, Hurling Analyst

 From www.irishtimes.ie

GAA : THE RESULT may have gone as expected but it turned out to be a very enjoyable game at the Gaelic Grounds. Clare came without being given much hope, and yet played all the hurling in the opening 10 minutes, and were deservedly 1-3 in the clear before Tipperary even got out of the traps.

They’ve definitely found a new super star in Conor McGrath, who started like a rocket, and while Tipperary might well have been a little complacent about those opening exchanges, it was clear at the same time Clare weren’t going to roll over that easy.

They were excellent for the entire first quarter, and set up perfectly with the early goal from McGrath – I think at that stage had they got one more goal then Tipperary would have been in serious trouble.

Still they were causing all sorts of problems for the likes of Conor O’Mahony and John O’Keeffe, and nearly all the Clare players were first to the ball – with the exception of Páraic Maher, who was the only Tipp player on top at that stage and wonderful throughout.

Yet all the Clare players were showing great intent. Conor Cooney, Cian Dillon and Pat Donnellan were doing well in defence, and certainly at that stage Declan Ryan would have been a little anxious on the sideline, especially seeing his team going the first 10 minutes without a score.

However, the undoing of Clare really was the three Tipp quick goals in succession. They were all well-taken, but at the same time were all avoidable if Clare had been a little tighter in their marking.

Goalkeeper Philip Brennan possibly made the wrong decision in coming out for the ball that resulted in Eoin Kelly’s goal and the next two goals really came off half-breaks that should have been covered by the defenders. Two or three of them went for the same ball, and that allowed Patrick Maher and Lar Corbett to sneak inside.

They had worked very hard to put Tipperary in a tricky position, but after conceding the three goals like that I felt the writing was on the wall. What must have rocked Clare that bit more was the great save from Brendan Cummins before half-time.

That would have given Clare the lead again, but instead they went into the break behind, despite all their efforts, which must have been disheartening. I felt as well it was going to be difficult for them to sustain that effort for the second half, and so it proved. They were also guilty of some naïve mistakes that you won’t get away with against a team like Tipp.

Ryan was quick to make the changes, bringing in Paddy Stapleton and Stephen Lillis. After that Tipp did enough to stay clear in the second half, Séamus Callanan and Noel McGrath and substitute Pa Bourke creating the extra space and showing up well.

It was always going to be that sort of game for Tipp. They’d come through a hard game against Cork, and most people expected them to get past Clare without much fuss. It’s not easy for a manager to raise their motivation in that situation, but I think Tipp always had the greater class and experience in the end.

The fourth goal was just the icing on the cake for them, really. Clare will take a lot from it, they played with a great attitude and unfortunately for them, just ran out of steam. But they gave it a great go, and I certainly think we’ve witnessed the dawn of a new star in Conor McGrath.

Their heads will be up now, and having drawn Galway in the qualifiers last night they’ll go into the game with nothing to fear.

The difference, however, is they came into this under no great pressure, but now they’ll be expected to put it up to Galway down in Pearse Stadium, and that’s a different scenario.

The first thing to say about Galway’s defeat to Dublin was it was totally comprehensive, and confirms Dublin are still building on the improvements shown in the league.

They’ve broken clear of those old days of inconsistency and broken championship performances, and they are now a real force to be reckoned with. They’re a big physical team with the right attitude: they chase and hunt in packs and are finally converting a better percentage of their scoring chances. The half forwards and half backs work very well, and it proves winning that league title was no fluke.

At the same time it was a terrible defeat for Galway. I reckon they would have expected to beat Dublin, and when they went ahead after Joe Canning’s early goal, and Dublin lost full back Tomás Brady, it was set up nicely for them.

Instead they never competed the way they needed to for the rest of the game, and once again were far too reliant on Canning and Damien Hayes.

Joe Gantley, in fairness, had a good match, but Canning was certainly poor by his own standards, and Hayes didn’t look right after the injury problems he had over the winter.

Whatever about making a late charge, Galway looked in real trouble for most of the game. After last year’s performance against Tipperary in the All-Ireland quarter-final you’d expect they’d kick on this summer, but I think in contrast to Dublin, they’ve gone backwards. I suppose the warning signs were there during the league but they’ve got a lot to do now if they want to beat Clare, and I actually fancy Clare might take them.

If you look as well at the Galway panel you have to wonder are they really as good a team as some people think, or are they just over-hyped. John McIntyre replaced three of his six forwards and both midfielders, and yet none of them had the desired impact.

They’ve had a lot of success at minor and under-21 level, but the question has to be asked whether or not they are simply up to it at this grade. They certainly lacked the necessary commitment and intent that Dublin showed, and without that you won’t win anything.

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