The View: You would feel that Tipp's forwards will have Clare's measure

Noel Dundon


Noel Dundon


Ronan Maher - a key figure for Tipp.

Tipperary centre back Ronan Maher will be key to the outcome on Saturday.

Our online column argues that history could be Tipperary's in Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Saturday.

First things first - Tipperary have been very fortunate to have gotten favourable draws as they continue their championship rehabilitation, following the mid season slump in form.
Reverses against Galway in the Allianz National Hurling League Final - a severe hiding as it happens - and Cork in the Munster championship, meant that morale was at a pretty low ebb before June even arrived.
But, the stern challenges which were presented to the players and management have been tackled head-on and a deep-rooted examination of their modus operandi undertaken, before the roadmap for the remainder of the championship was laid out.
Tipperary regrouped, reshaped and were not afraid to jettison a few either as they sought to rediscover the kind of form which had them as evrybody's favorite for the All-Ireland, the day before the league final - how quickly it all turned to pot.

Patrick Bonner Maher can be the key to unlocking the Clare defence.

The reality though is that while Tipperary's form might have dipped and confidence took a fair old walloping, the basic skills and the level of class associated with the team was still very much present. It has taken time for the intensity levels to be ratcheted up with the wins over Westmeath and Dublin, still not seeing the dial at the highest level - one suspects that it will certainly have to be at the highest on Saturday when the defeated Munster champions bring their A game to 'De Park'.
Having watched the training over the last few weeks, it's fair to say that Tipperary are working extremely hard. The intensity levels are there in training and that hard work is bound to pay off. The hurling is crisp and sharp; the movement is fast and incisive; and the level of aggression shown in attack and in defence is exactly where any management team would want it to be. The key now for Tipp is to transfer than training ground form to match day. Last season, Tipperary had mastered that art, but so far in the championship it has been lacking - get that right and it is a brave man who bet against Michael Ryans charges.
If Tipperary have their house in order on Saturday, they will beat Clare and will be back in an All-Ireland semi-final with a fair degree of momentum behind them. If they do not get to the required level, Clare will exploit that and it will be very difficult for the Premier County to emerge.
It's interesting that both counties will be using Cork as their reference point by way of preparation for Saturday's game. Clare will be looking long and hard at the clips of the Munster Final to find out where it all went wrong - giving away so many scorable frees, and squandering so many chances, would be a very quick assessment from their point of view.
But, Clare will also point to the difficulties they posed the Cork defence when they ran at, and took the game to, them. Shane O'Donnell's pace and the scoring prowess of Podge Collins, Conor McGrath and Tony Kelly can be very telling if they are allowed to get on a run. The Clare attack under performed against Cork, but you can bet your bottom dollar that they will be re-shaped for Saturday's game and will be out to exploit perceived weaknesses in the Tipperary rearguard.

Tipperary Boss Michael Ryan will have to gee-up his charges for the clash on Saturday.

At the other end of the field, Clare's backs came in for a stern examination in the Munster Final - an examination which they failed, by-and-large. Now, in fairness to their defence, the level of quality ball which found it's way into the Cork forwards was bound to make life very difficult and the Clare backs will be pointing to a need for further resistence up-front and in midfield in order to give them a dig out.
You would feel though that Tipperary's forwards will have Clare's measure too if they get the right supply of ball. With Patrick 'Bonner' Maher coming into a superb vein of form, he can be the one to make Tipperary tick in attack. His ability to create openings and unlock stubborn defences is a real key and with finishers of the calibre of Seamus Callanan, John McGrath and John O'Dwyer ready to pounce, Clare had better be on guard.
Question marks still abound in relation to Tipp's full back line -everybody seems to be preoccupied with it at present. But, in the last two games, they have been steady enough and difficulties appear to be further out. Perhaps, we will see midfielder Brendan Maher playing a deeper role to help protect the outer rearguard - his natural instinct is to defend whereas his midfield partner Michael Breen possesses more of an attackers instinct.
Tipp could go man for man in this game - if Shanagher plays at full forward, it could suit Thossy Hamill. If Shane O'Donnell moves in there, you could see Donagh Maher picking him up. Padraic Maher won't be too pushed about who squares up to him, but this could be the game to kickstart a run of form for his All-Star brother Ronan at centre back - if the sides fulcrum is firing on all cylinders, a lot of the rest takes care of itself.
Saturday will be an historic day in Cork - let's hope that it will be Tipperary's day.
One suspects it will be.