Concentrated Clare should topple Tipperary

 Podge Collins has quickly become the nodal point for much of the Clare hurlers’  best attacking work. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Podge Collins has quickly become the nodal point for much of the Clare hurlers’ best attacking work. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Sun, Apr 20, 2014, 01:00

Though injuries have diluted what either side has to offer here, it’s still a fixture to quicken the pulse. Paying through the stiles to see Clare alone is worth €15 of anyone’s money these days, multiples of it if they’re in the kind of mood they were against Tipp and Waterford last month.

And whatever leakage issues have beset Tipperary on their way through this league, their ability to score from all angles and in all scenarios has never left them. So it would be unusual if this turned out to be anything but high-scoring.

Clare’s edge in front of goal will be dulled a little by the loss of Shane O’Donnell but they can get by without him. Podge Collins has quickly become the nodal point for much of their best attacking work.

No Clare forward can be left to roam if Tipp are to survive. Given Cork needed no great level of ingenuity to put four goals past them in the quarter-final – two from high balls dropped in on the fullback line, two from goalkeeping mistakes – Clare’s more sophisticated approach can surely reap just as healthy a dividend.

Yet there is a sense in Tipperary of the season having begun in earnest. If beating Cork wasn’t necessarily a big deal, not making a hames of it when they clearly could have was.

Noel McGrath has carried his club form through from the winter and Séamie Callanan is becoming the player Tipp people have been tapping their watches in expectation of for a few seasons now.

Clare certainly aren’t above the occasional afternoon of phoning it in, as Laois very nearly exploited the last day. Do that here and Tipp will win. Hard to see it, though.
Verdict : Clare by three

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