WATERFORD CRYSTAL CUP SH FINAL:
Clare v Tipperary
Ominous signs already in 2014 from All-Ireland champions Clare.
Only early February, a couple of weeks back from their team holiday in Cancun and New York and yet already with two almost completely different teams they’ve put old rivals Limerick and Fitzgibbon Cup champions UCC to the sword.
Now they face neighbours Tipperary in the final of the first competition they won last year, the Waterford Crystal Tournament, this evening under lights in Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds at 7.30pm.
Although young, these guys have grown in the last 12 months, grown out of sight.
Take Podge Collins. A dual player with club and county, in the 2013 Munster Club senior football final his club came up against Kerry kingpins Dr Crokes and dominated the second-half. Podge himself came up against Crokes’ and Kerry defensive strongman Eoin Brosnan — quite literally — in a full-on frontal collision.
The diminutive Podge wasn’t the one who ended up on the deck. There’s a reason for that surprising power which is best explained by Clare hurling team trainer Joe O’Connor, a lecturer in Exercise Physiology, Advanced Performance Training and Resistance Training at IT Tralee since 2006. Podge and the lads, you see, have been hitting the gym but not at all in the old-fashioned sense.
“When Podge Collins can throw a man a foot taller than him off the ball then you must accept that there’s something going on other than the traditional weights programme,” he said.
“It goes from trying to make them big to making them powerful, having acceleration and speed as well, and a specialised individual weights programme is central to all that. Power is force by velocity.
“When you put force behind velocity you become powerful. All the force in the world isn’t going to make you fast, you have to do the velocity side too. I don’t want my players to be able to wrestle a fella to the ground and beat them to death, that’s of no benefit to me.
“What I do want them to be able to do is to hit the man and hit the ground as hard as possible and then be able to accelerate away from the man.”
Well, that’s what Clare have done this year, hit the ground running, accelerated away from all opposition — to date.
But this is going to be a real test because Eamon O’Shea’s Tipperary have also hit the ground running with massive wins over Limerick IT, Kerry and UL.
Two years ago they beat Clare in this final, a result the Banner reversed last year.
Early season shadow-boxing this may be, but it has the makings...
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