Tipperary may be overwhelming favourites to beat Clare in this evening’s Cadbury Munster U21 football championship semi-final at Semple Stadium (7.30pm) but with Joe Garry in charge of the visiting Banner, anything is possible.
Garry, after all, was the mastermind behind Clare’s shock U21 championship victory over Kerry in Kilmihil six years ago.
The Kingdom made the trip to Clare without Darran O’Sullivan and Killian Young but with Pádraig Reidy, David Moran, Kieran O’Leary, Tommy Walsh and Paul O’Connor in the starting line-up, a comfortable victory was anticipated for the visitors. But Clare midfielder David Ryan cracked home the only goal of the game early in the second half and it was a strike that ultimately separated the sides as Garry’s boys recorded a surprise 1-6 to 0-6 win.
“Probably my most abiding memory of the game is the great honesty of the Clare lads, up against a fine Kerry squad managed by John O’Dwyer,” Garry recalls.
“Our lads threw caution to the wind and had a crack at it. We had two lads on the Clare senior team at the time and we went out and fought for one another and managed to bring home a notable scalp.”
The Cooraclare man, who has also enjoyed stints as manager of minor and junior Clare football teams, admits that his young side are up against it in Thurles tonight. He has just one senior player – Cathal Duggan – to call upon and Garry estimates that there are “one or two” survivors from last year’s U21 team. Tipp, meanwhile, fielded nine 2011 All-Ireland MFC medallists in their starting line-up against Waterford in the quarter-final. Manager David Power admitted: “We have to up our performance if we’re going to beat Clare but if we play to our potential, I’ve no doubt we’ll beat them.”
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