Crusheen’s Cian Dillon announced his retirement from inter-county hurling earlier this year after a stellar career with the Banner that saw him pocket a Celtic Cross in 2013. Dillon was a tough-as-teak defender and believes that the Clare side that take to the field on Sunday must be of a similar constitution if they are to reign victorious over Tipperary.
“The squad will be happy with the manner of the win the first day, I think. They will be disappointed that they didn’t kick on in the last 10 minutes, but they will still feel like there is plenty still in the tank.
“There will be no illusions about the task at hand and the task the management face is to get the players back grounded and focussed on the task at hand. They will have been happy with the three-week break and the fact they are now facing into their first home game, so there are plenty positives from a Clare perspective,” Dillon said.
He believes the game will go to the wire and that this Tipperary side seem to be exuding a lot of the same tendencies that the All-Ireland-winning team of 2010 had, now that Sheedy’s stamp is once again evident.
“A lot of people are tipping them to go very far this year and they will be viewing this game as a win and you’re more than likely in to the Munster final. After last year’s disappointment, they will want to right that wrong. From a neutral point of view, it should be a cracker and there is plenty at stake for both teams.
“With Liam Sheedy back at the helm, Tipp are showing some of the strengths that got them to the All-Ireland in 2010. The forward play, the efficiency from puck-outs, shooting accuracy, they’re all hallmarks of Liam’s reign from his first managerial post. I think this Tipp team has got the connection with the fans again and Sheedy would have felt they needed that back.
“They’re shooting the lights out but it was a bit too easy for them after Gleeson was sent off the last day. Have they really been tested? I think they know that there is nothing ever easy in Ennis. Clare will be looking to keep that home record intact for as long as possible. It is going to be very, very tight,” he believes.
One area that seems to be particularly beneficial for Tipperary is their percentage of primary possession won through hard-workers such as Brendan and Bonner Maher. Dillon believes this needs to be counteracted if Clare are to have any chance and although Tipperary are in red-hot form, he is tipping the Banner to be the only unbeaten team in Munster come Sunday evening.
“Tipperary’s puck-outs will be a crucial area. They seem to be retaining an awful lot of possession from their own puck-outs. Bubbles O’Dwyer is going to have to be nullified. There will be a lot of movement around their half-forward line and you will probably see Dan McCormack coming deep. Michael Breen was probably man of the match the last day too, so there are plenty areas Clare are going to have to look at.
“On the flip side, Clare are going to have to create many chances and we saw in Waterford that the likes of Shane O’Donnell, John Conlon and more can get a lot of scores. I think Tipp will have to be wary of that too.
“Clare will have to be very wary of the fact that Tipp will be highly motivated due to Clare knocking them out of the championship last year. It is going to be a very tough assignment for Clare but all the lads have to do is remember how good their home form is for the last few years. They went to Waterford after suffering a heavy defeat in the league and won and survived a scare at the death, so they know going down the stretch they can beat Tipp. I’m going for Clare in a very tight affair and the fans to get them over the line,” Cian concluded.