Clare’s Senior footballers face a difficult assignment this weekend when they travel to Thurles to take on Tipperary in a crucial tie.
These sides met twice last year in Division 4 of the National Football League with the Premier County emerging victorious on both occasions. Coincidentally their first meeting was in Round Four, just like this year with goals proving crucial as Tipperary won 3-09 to 0-14. With promotion secured by both sides, they also met in the Division 4 League Final as Tipp ran out winners by the minimum 1-16 to 1-15 at Croke Park, giving the majority of players their first run at Jones’ Road.
For Clare, it is hugely important that they avenge recent defeats to Tipp as very difficult fixtures to the top two teams in Division 3 Armagh and Fermanagh still follow. In order for promotion to be achieved, Clare cannot afford to lose this game. Manager Colm Collins has said in the last week “We owe Tipp a beating” and no doubt his comments will have been rubbing off on his panel of players as they prepare for the trip to Thurles.
A major problem for the Banner in their performances to date has been their inability to hold their own for the full seventy minutes. They recovered from a sluggish start against Sligo to secure a six point win, in their only defeat of the year Clare failed to score for the last twenty eight minutes versus Louth and suffered a nine point defeat. Ultimately one of the reasons Tipp were crowned Division 4 Champions in 2014 was down to Clare being unable to match the Premier’s strong finish.
Doonbeg’s David Tubridy returns to the starting fifteen for Clare and Shane Brennan is the one to make way. Tubridy has always performed well when facing Tipperary and it is hoped he will continue to do this on Saturday afternoon. He is joined in the full-forward line by the lively duo of Pat Burke and Podge Collins. Meelick man Kevin Harnett makes his second start of the NFL at full-back after overcoming a recent ankle injury.
Needless to say a win is pivotal for Clare. Not just because it keeps promotion hopes still alive but it also lay down a marker for their Tipp counterparts and no way better way to do that than in Tipp’s own backyard.
In their NFL games to date, Tipp have suffered defeat on two occasions. However those two defeats were to two of the stronger sides in Division 3. Only a point separated Tipperary and table-toppers Armagh in the league opener while four points was the gap when they faced off with Fermanagh. Meanwhile they managed to secure a comprehensive twelve point victory over near-neighbours Limerick.
Home advantage will be key for the Peter Creedon managed Tipperary outfit if they’re to get back to winning ways. The Cork native states that a win is vital for his side in a very competitive Division 3 “Clare are in the drive for promotion, we’re now chasing and it’s important we get another two points to get to four, because you want to move away from the other end of the table aswell”.
Creedon a Principal at St Ailbe’s School in Tipperary Town has kept faith with the same fifteen that lost away in Brewster Park to Fermanagh the last day out. Up front, Tipp are extremely dangerous and they will certainly test the discipline of the Clare defenders.
Interestingly both sides have only scored one goal each in their NFL matches to date. On Saturday the team that manages to raise the more green flags will be more than likely secure the two points. Tipp will be relying on Barry Grogan, Colin O’Riordan, Conor Sweeney, Andrew Morrissey and Robbie Kiely to get another two points on the board. For the Banner, Gordon Kelly, Gary Brennan, Shane McGrath, David Tubridy and Kevin Hartnett will be the men setting the standard. For Clare they will need to perform for the full seventy minutes and should they do that, they will get another League win.
1: Joe Hayes (Lissycasey)
2: Dean Ryan (Éire Óg)
3: Kevin Hartnett (Meelick)
4: Martin McMahon (Kilmurry/Ibrickane)
5: Ciarán Russell (Éire Óg)
6: Gordon Kelly (St Josephs Miltown)
7: Jamie Malone (Corofin)
8: Gary Brennan (Clondegad)
9: Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen)
10: Seán Collins (Cratloe)
11: Shane Hickey (Kilmurry/Ibrickane)
12: Shane McGrath (Thomas Davis)
13: Pádraic Collins (Cratloe)
14: David Tubridy (Doonbeg)
15: Pat Burke (Kilmacud Crokes).
1: Evan Comerford (Kilsheelan Kilcash)
2: Alan Campbell (Moyle Rovers)
3: Paddy Codd (Killenaule)
4: Andrew Morrissey (Galtee Rovers)
5: Seamus Kennedy (Commercials)
6: Peter Acheson (Moyle Rovers)
7: Robbie Kiely (Carbery Rangers)
8: Colin O’Riordan (JK Brackens)
9: Stephen O’Brien (Ballina)
10: George Hannigan (Shannon Rovers)
11: Barry Grogan (Aherlow)
12: Philip Austin (Borrisokane)
13: Conor Sweeney (Ballyporeen)
14: Michael Quinlivan (Commercials)
15: Ian Fahy (Commercials).