John Sheedy admits Tipperary are in the “last chance saloon” ahead of tonight’s Electric Ireland Munster MHC play-off against Clare (Cusack Park, Ennis, 7pm).
Tipperary, Munster champions and beaten All-Ireland finalists last year, could be dumped out of the championship if they suffer a second defeat of the provincial campaign.
The Premier County lost their opening fixture to Waterford at Walsh Park and must get past Clare to continue their interest in the 2016 competition.
And selector Sheedy admits that the knockout nature of this evening’s fixture has brought a huge sense of focus to the team’s preparations.
The Portroe man said: “That goes for everyone — team and management.
“It brings a real focus and it’s the last chance saloon.
“I’d hope to see a big Tipp crowd and if we can win, we’ll have eight weeks again which would be a big help to everyone.”
The reward for the winners is a semi-final clash with Cork on June 30 but Tipp will line out again without captain Gavin Ryan, who is nursing a hamstring injury.
In his absence, Loughmore-Castleiney’s Brian McGrath, younger brother of Noel, will lead the team.
At the semi-final stage in Munster last year, Tipp beat Clare by four points but heading into the lion’s den at Cusack Park makes the task a more difficult one for the visitors.
Last year, Tipp had all of their fixtures at home in the Munster championship but they’ll have to negotiate two more games on the road to reach a similar stage.
And Sheedy acknowledged: “It does make a difference — home advantage is a help.
“Having said that, we’re well prepared and we’ll have no excuses.
“We’ll be going at this gung-ho.
“I saw Clare against Limerick and, like all Clare teams, they’re very hard working, play the sweeper system, know it and are well able to work it.
“They’ll be hard to break down.”
C Barrett; C O’Dwyer, B McGrath (capt.), J Cahill; G Dunne, M Whelan, T Murphy; B O’Mara, J Morris; G Browne, D Quirke, M Kehoe; S Neville, C Darcy, L Fairbrother.
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