Be honest about your own expectations. How else will you achieve peace?
The heavy cavalry thunder had barely died down in Limerick on Saturday night when we turned our attention to Tipp versus Clare. Could it match the fight at the Gaelic Grounds, or were we gearing up more for a middleweight bout, with lots of technique but less brutal power?
Turns out we have less evidence rather than more Sunday afternoons when it comes to conclusions. Clare’s speed and panache completely overwhelmed Tipperary in a clinical first half, leading to the break at thirteen: that certainly wasn’t your expectation.
No doubt the doctorate is somewhere on team performance in the second week of a round robin (with specific reference to a new opponent). If so, the fare at Semple Stadium in front of a crowd of 17,260 will likely deliver a chapter or two, if not a handful of quotes. Tipperary’s bravery in taking Waterford to the abyss last weekend left them well short of the freshness of the banner.
Clare had three goals on the board before half-time and left at least two more chances to score as they rolled over the home side. The Clare attack was like a hydra with venomous heads popping up everywhere (and with all due respect to non-venomous heads like T. Kelly, R. Taylor, etc.).
Tipperary’s back was under so much pressure that their puck-out strategy quickly blew a fuse: the blue and gold could only score seven points in the first half.
On the other hand, Clare had the optimal partnership at the top in Duggan and O’Donnell. Although they sounded like a private investigator from a Pat McCabe novel, the two men complemented each other perfectly.
Peter Duggan embodied one of the rarest concepts in modern intercounty play and was a viable one-man puck-out target at long range, while Shane O’Donnell, making a welcome return from a long-term injury, was his usual embodiment of the old Geometry saying about the shortest distance between two points.
Tipperary started the second half with a good goal from Ger Browne – but was followed by two poor outside shots while Mark Kehoe missed a scoring chance on the wrong side of the post. Tipp needed goals, and plenty of them, and they got one cheap when Barry Heffernan’s long delivery went into the net: even then there were nine points between the sides. Eibhear Quiligan later made amends to fend off another attempt from Kehoe.
A goal would have been interesting at this point, but hardly significant: Clare just needed to avoid collapse to win, which they did.
Speaking of goalkeepers, a thought for Brian Hogan, who saved Tipperary twice only to be naught by an unfriendly rebound.
Both Galvin and Duggan found the net without a glove being placed on them, a point Hogan made during briefings at Dr. Morris Park will likely emphasize. Tipperary’s defense was alarmingly open at times at Thurles, with Clare finding plenty of success as she raged on the left wing.
A thought also for Tony Kelly, albeit with a different emphasis.
Kelly buried a penalty and his fingerprints were all over Clare’s first goal with a brilliant hand pass, but he didn’t have to be everything to everyone at Thurles. An ominous prospect for future opponents used to focusing resources on Kelly.
What does that mean? Expectations now stretch to next weekend when Cork take on Clare in a crucial game for both sides. If Clare wins they will be in a great position before taking on the big beasts of the Munster Championship. In that scenario, Cork – and Tipperary – would both be on the verge of being eliminated from the Championship, with the calendar showing us early May.
Of course Clare will start the road back to Thurles on Sunday after today’s run out. Will the game take anything away from them? Will Cork be all the fresher for a fortnight break since playing Limerick?
Why stop there anyway? What did Sunday tell us about Saturday night’s competitors, such as Waterford and Tipperary?
expectations this week. Conclusions next week, peaceful or not.