Eoin Kelly: Clare’s only chance to ‘Tipp’ the scales is a shootout

The Tipperary legend dives right into Saturday’s quarter-final and says Páirc Uí Chaoimh can be a ‘dangerous distraction’...

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If the game with Clare turned into a shootout on Saturday that’s the only worry I’d have for Tipperary because, even though they could win it, they might just as easily lose out like they did against Cork in Munster quarter.

Even if it’s only to get their own supporters back onside I’d call on Clare to go for it, on form they have the forwards to worry any defence, including Tipperary’s, if it goes point-for-point.

These Banner lads haven’t appealed to the Clare public since 2013, mainly due to the style of play they use and their fans came out of the game with Cork very disappointed, especially as they were outnumbered by Rebel fans three to one in their first Munster final since 2008.

Defence is going to have a massive impact on wins this quarter-final. David McInerney’s hamstring injury will be a huge worry for Clare this weekend, it firmly swings this game in Tipperary’s favour because he’s a serious player.

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The Banner’s defence probably needs another two or three David McInerney’s, they’d love to have him full back and centre back – he’s that good. Clare will have a bit of hurt in them after the Munster final loss though and it’s time a few of them said ‘look, we need to deliver a performance’.

After the Cork defeat, Tipp needed favourable draws and they got that with games against Westmeath and Dublin.

They seem refocused and confident now, there hasn’t even been a peep from the camp all week. The Premier boys have found a bit of form now and I strongly believe they’re back.

If they can get over Clare with a real test (and that is coming), then Tipp will be primed lovely for a shot at the Liam McCarthy.

Lark in the Páirc

I’ve great memories of Páirc Uí Chaoimh, it’s where I had some of my best performances for Tipperary and I can’t wait to get down there to see the new state of the art stadium.

You couldn’t swing a cat in the dressing rooms and running out into the small tunnel you’d always hit the supporters milling around.

Before the 2002 Munster quarter-final against Clare a friend of mine literally grabbed me while I was waiting to get out on the pitch. He had a few drinks beforehand, but more importantly I’d say he had a decent bet on Tipperary to win the game.

He was able to get his hands on me in the concourse and said ‘don’t let me down today’. We didn’t thankfully, but I’d say the players this weekend will have plenty of protection from that.

While the opening of the new stadium is special occasion, the hullabaloo surrounding it will be a dangerous distraction to both the Clare and Tipperary teams.

However, it also offers them a totally level playing field. It’s a completely new environment for both, no one is at home, neither side has played there regularly and it’s fresh surface.

So there can be no excuses for either team if they lose.

It’s interesting that Tipp are the only one of the four sides playing in Páirc Uí Chaoimh this weekend that haven’t gone down there for a peep. It will be like their first time entering Croke Park for some players.

Under Liam Sheedy in 2008, a lot of our panel were new to Croker when we met Waterford in the All-Ireland semi-final. The Déise literally hit us for six straight away, they had half a dozen points on the board before we even registered a score and we wasted a lot of energy dragging ourselves back into by half-time.

In the second half we faded going into the vital part of the game because of that. It is something that can take your focus off a little.

The three other teams certainly have a small advantage having visited the new stadium recently. They’ve hit a few frees and their goalkeepers would have practiced some puck-outs, so that can work in their favour.

If I was still in the Tipperary panel I would have definitely liked to have gone down, just to have a puck around.

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What do you think?