Clare v Tipp C’Ship Preview 2011 (Published Nenagh Guardian)

The Deise await. Following a far from easy win over Limerick, Waterford await the winners of this weekend’s Munster semi-final. Last time Tipperary met Clare in the Munster championship, they just about saw off the Banner men’s late revival to go forward into the Munster final… against none other than Waterford. Thus the omens are good if this weekend goes off without a hitch.
                Indeed, the omens are great if you consider Clare’s woeful record in the Munster Senior Championship in the past decade or so. Since the turn of the millennium, Clare have won the grand total of three games in the Provincial championship. While Tipperary have graced most the Munster finals in the majority of the last ten years, Clare have competed in the provincial decider just once in that time-frame. The year was 2008, and their opponents and victors on the day were none other than Tipperary.
                Two years ago, Tipperary brushed the Banner aside by eight points in the Munster quarter final, and this was the last meeting of the sides in senior hurling. All the signs point to another Tipperary victory this weekend.
                However, a degree of caution is advisable as recent history will show that Tipperary do not respond well to having the overwhelming favourites tag cast around their neck. The Cork match of 2010 should be evidence enough of that. Added to this is the unavoidable fact that Clare are the All Ireland U-21 champions, defeating Kilkenny last year to claim the crown. The addition of some of these players, accustomed to success, should serve to give Clare an added impetus going into the semi-final this weekend.
                Nevertheless, if Tipperary display the form that they did against Cork, then it should be they who face Waterford in the provincial decider on the hallowed turf of Semple Stadium on the 10th of July. Ten years on, maybe this Tipperary team will do what the 2001 team did and win both the Munster Championship and the All Ireland. Time will tell. A win on Sunday is imperative however.

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