John Maughan hails Tipp and Clare campaigns

Former Mayo manager is impressed by progress of underdog counties so far

Sunday's All-Ireland football quarter-finals create history with the first appearance at this stage of Munster counties Tipperary and Clare. Their presence brings to five the number of counties from the province to have taken their place in the round that traditionally signals the start of the serious business in the football championship.

The two counties were involved in exciting matches against Roscommon and Derry and Tipp's victory in the latter was one of the matches of the summer.

John Maughan, who managed Mayo to three All-Ireland finals and is a regular radio pundit, is of the opinion that those qualifiers were the first major events of the championship. "Last weekend provided the first great excitement of the championship. Tipperary and Clare were excellent and reaching their first All-Ireland quarter-finals is a significant achievement."

He has a special interest in those achievements as his early managerial career was spent in Munster where he devised one of the great shocks of modern football – Clare’s 1992 Munster final defeat of Kerry and he was familiar with football in the province around that time.



After his inter-county playing career with Mayo ended due to injury he became Clare manager and remembers thinking that Kerry wouldn’t be necessarily unbeatable even though they hadn’t lost in the province to anyone except Cork since 1957.

“I’ve never forgotten being on the side line in 1991 and thinking that if we could get the fitness levels right we could trouble Kerry. It was common knowledge that Kerry liked to hit the sweet spot later in the summer and although in ‘92 they had already defeated Cork in the first round that had been in May and they were building for the All-Ireland series.


“So looking at them the year before, I sensed there would be a certain vulnerability in July and we could catch them. This was made possible by the open draw in Munster, which had just come in because realistically the chances of beating Cork and then Kerry wouldn’t have been as positive but that day [in ‘92] I had a unique feeling about it going in there, that we were going to do it.”

The timing of Tipperary’s and Clare’s emergence is ironic that the Munster Council reversed the open draw reform only recently and caused a storm among the traditionally less successful counties from which a compromise emerged seeding Cork and Kerry to the semi-finals but having an open draw at that stage.

Maughan says that whereas Clare have been impressive making their way to this stage – "1-13 against Sligo in the second half speaks for itself and in Gary Brennan they have the Player of the championship" – Tipperary deserve particular praise for their progress given the number of players lost to various causes, from the AFL to the county hurlers.

He said Tipp have shown great “confidence and composure to reach a special day for football in the county.”

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times