Treaty’s lack of intensity a damning indictment

After Clare were well beaten by Cork in the 1998 league semi-final in Thurles, myself, Fergie Tuohy, and ‘Sparrow’ O’Loughlin went back to Powers in Clarecastle.

Treaty’s lack of intensity a damning indictment

We weren’t supposed to be drinking but we were parched with the thirst and feeling sorry for ourselves so I called three pints.

A good friend of ours, Peter Cosgrave, was sitting at the bar and as the pints were being pulled, he piped up: “Dalo, the next time ye go to Thurles and don’t bother yereselves trying, you might tell us beforehand to save us a few bob.”

Before I quenched the dryness in my throat with black honey, I replied: “Cozzie, I can’t speak for everyone, but as far as I’m concerned, I was trying. My tongue was hanging out like a greyhound from chasing Seanie McGrath around the place.”

Yesterday in Limerick reminded me of that story because I’m sure the Limerick supporters felt cheated by the flatness of the team’s performance. They were stuck to the ground like we were 19 years ago. There was no life in the players but the most damning indictment of the performance was the lack of intensity they brought to the fight.

After the Limerick minors were narrowly beaten by Tipperary in Thurles 12 days ago, John Mulqueen, our manager, praised the players afterwards for dying with their boots on.

We didn’t win but we played the Limerick way — with fire and passion and real intensity. And we had a real cut.

I don’t think Limerick can play any other way but there was none of that yesterday. What summed it up for me was a sideline cut Gearóid Hegarty stood over in the first half. It took him seven seconds before he took the cut because nobody was moving or giving him an option. What was wrong with going route one?

Then when Limerick went route one to Hegarty with the breeze behind them in the second half, it was old style route one — headless stuff, that mostly ended in wides.

Limerick did their best hurling in the third quarter to pare the deficit down to three points but as soon as Conor Cooney scored the Galway goal, the game was over.

There was still 16 minutes left but you could see no way back for Limerick because they didn’t have a Plan B.

I just don’t know about this league. We were questioning Cork’s motives after the quarter-final. We are all questioning what Limerick’s motives were after yesterday. Are they saving everything for June 5? Is this league flawed? That was certainly a 1B match yesterday. It was light years away from some of the stuff we saw earlier on in the season, when it was do-or-die to survive in Division 1A.

We haven’t got any of that since, which is the biggest criticism of the structure. Let there be dead rubbers in the regular rounds but there shouldn’t be games of that standard in the semi-finals. The only way to ensure that is to expand the structure to eight teams, with two semi-finals, from either the top four, or that fourth spot going to to the winners of Division 2.

The fact Waterford dropped nine players for the quarter-final sums up much of what the league has now become. I’m not sure where Limerick’s heads were at yesterday, or if they were in the middle of hard training, but the other side of all this is that Galway were seriously impressive. They were able to win by 10 points without having to get out of third gear.

Only Limerick got the goal, the match could have been over at half-time. I liked the look of Galway. They still have to sort out the full-back position but Paul Killeen did well when introduced and their half-back line of Padraic Mannion, Gearóid McInerney and Daithi Burke has developed into a formidable unit. I would probably prefer Burke at centre-back and McInerney on the wing but they are interchangeable.

The worry Galway will have now is what to do against Seamie Callanan and Tipperary next weekend.

Do they put Daithi Burke back in there to tie down Callanan? Galway will put a lot of thought into it because as soon as Barry Nash started causing trouble for John Hanbury yesterday, Micheál Donoghue whipped him off.

There is always goals in this Tipperary forward line and we saw that again in Nowlan Park.

Davy Fitz tells us we don’t know the sweeper system. I might not have it copped yet either because Wexford are the one team I haven’t seen live but the one thing I do know is that you cannot concede five goals.

That needs to be worked on but what is very evident from Wexford is the spirit and their never say-die attitude. Tipp showed why they are a step ahead of everyone but Wexford kept battling to the very end. Wexford are certainly on the right track.

I liked Fitzy’s interview afterwards. He was positive. he will know that the quality was five notches up from the Gaelic Grounds. That will be comforting but the one thing I am sure Fitzy will have learned is that you are not going to outmuscle this Tipperary team.

In a neat sense of symmetry from talking about that 1998 league semi-final, I ended up in Powers again yesterday. I was rushing back from Limerick and I knew the match would be shown there. I watched it in the bar while all the soccer supporters watched the Man United-Chelsea game in the lounge. When I was walking out after the hurling match, I sang a little tune.

‘We love ye United, we do, we love...’ I told some of the boys in red jerseys that it was the first time I hoped United would win.

Chelsea’s lead is down to four points now. Come on you Spurs!

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