In the past, he has had a foot in both Clare and Tipperary camps but Len Gaynor speaks as a follower of the blue and gold.

Conflicted about his affections he is not but the performances of his native county leave him uncertain how to read Sunday’s meeting.

“Tipperary are in a bit of a hole at this stage and are going to find it hard to qualify,” he opens.

“They just aren’t playing as well as they are capable of and it would be hard for them to switch it on at this late stage. 

"They have made great comebacks and played very well in those periods but they’re leaving themselves uphill battles every day and you can’t sustain that.

“I’m sure Clare will sniff blood as Tipp are huffing and puffing and Clare need the points as well. They’re in with a great chance but Tipp should be confident in Thurles. 

If Tipp get their strongest team on the field, they’re capable of redeeming the situation and possibly qualifying in third position but it’s going to be hard for them now.

Brendan Maher has spoken about a lack of confidence and an over-abundance of eagerness as reasons for Tipperary’s slow starts.

“It’s the common thread,” noted Gaynor. “They are finding it hard to get into the games and stay with the opposition.

"It’s hard to figure that out. These matches coming one after another, they should be able to handle them.

“It’s what they do between those matches that might be making the difference. I haven’t seen any of their training but if they’re doing any serious stuff it would be too much.

"They need to loosen out and keep their strength and energy during the week.

“A lot of people are commenting on the four games in a row but I don’t think so; I think they should be well able for those games but certainly mind themselves within them and re-organise themselves.”

There has been much debate about the type of delivery Tipperary have sent the way of their forwards with criticism of their directness even though several of their goals in recent games — including the ‘ghost goal’ — have come by way of long ball.

“The main thing is to get enough ball in there,” says Gaynor. “Rain it down on them if you have to. 

"The problem is we haven’t been able to get enough ball in there; we’re being harassed and blocked and our half-backs and midfield are being stymied.

“We have the firepower in there to get the scores. There’s no magic about what ball has to go in there.

"Brian Cody made the remark once that the only wrong ball for forwards in no ball and that’s true for everyone from what I can see.

We have good forwards but they have to be moving. Against Cork, they allowed the Cork backs to come out and clear the ball up the field without putting enough pressure on them. They have to up that part of the game as well.

“In fairness, there is no use in putting the ball up in the sky and giving the defenders every chance to get it but it’s hard enough to get it in low too because there are half-backs there who will cut it out. Move it down the wings but move it fast is the big thing.”

A grandchild’s Communion meant Gaynor missed the opening defeat to Limerick but he was at the two draws and he will take his seat in Semple Stadium this Sunday along with several thousand Tipperary supporters who, if the cheers of those in Limerick last Sunday are anything to go by, will be loud.

“Clare will travel — they travel when they play Tipp. Tipp supporters have been strong behind this team and they’re keen for them to do well.

"We know they’re good hurlers but we’re anxious to see them get into the right groove. Tipp supporters will push them on hard but there’s only so much they can do.

“Clare have been very confident against Tipp since they won the two All-Irelands. 

"They mightn’t have won all those matches but they won’t be one bit shy and they’ll take them on but I’m hoping Tipp will be ready for that and respond from the very start and get points on the board.”


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