Eamon O’Shea (Kilruane MacDonagh’s) pictured in consultation with Conor O’Brien (Éire Óg Annacarty-Donohill) during his time as Tipperary senior hurling manager.
If Liam Sheedy is looking for a means to dampen down the dust of expectation rising off the roads in the Premier County all he has to do is draw a circle around a date in the history books - June 22 1986 was the last time that Tipperary paid a championship visit to Ennis to face Clare and on that occasion not even the introduction of Eamon O’Shea to the side could save the men draped in blue and gold.
Tipperary have only faced the Banner at Cusack Park, Ennis on three occasions. In 1912 the Premier County won (3-3 to 2-3) while the sides drew in 1985 (1-8 apiece), but in 1986 Tipp suffered a harrowing defeat.
Tipp led the 1986 contest by seven points at half-time and then by nine early in the second half. Indeed, Tipperary still led by seven entering the final quarter (1-10 to 0-6) when Clare sparked into devastating life. Kilruane goalkeeper Tony Sheppard was harshly penalized for over-carrying and Gerry McInerney buried the resultant 21-yard free. Game on.
Tommy Guilfoyle added another Clare goal soon after as the home side out-scored Tipperary 2-4 to 0-1 during the final quarter. Eamon O’Shea was introduced as a second half substitute, but the gifted Kilruane forward could do little to turn the tide.
The defeat spelt the end for a Tipperary management team consisting of Tony Wall (coach), Fr Ray Reidy, Pat Stakelum, Jimmy Hennessy, Len Gaynor and Liam King, but it also heralded a new era as Michael Keating, Donie Nealon and Theo English took charge. And, a year later Tipperary won the Munster title for the time in sixteen years.
Here is the Tipperary team which lost to Clare the last time that the Premier County paid a championship visit to Cusack Park in Ennis: Tony Sheppard (Kilruane MacDonagh’s), Colm Bonnar (Cashel King Cormacs), Peter Brennan (Loughmore-Castleiney), Séamus Gibson (Kilruane MacDonagh’s), Dónal Kealy (Roscrea), Noel Sheedy (Silvermines), Bobby Ryan (Borris-Ileigh), John McGrath (Borris-Ileigh), Ralph Callaghan (Carrick Davins), Liam Stokes (Kilsheelan-Kilcash), Donie O’Connell (Killenaule), Philip Kennedy (Nenagh Éire Óg), Gerry O’Neill (Cappawhite), Séamus Power (Boherlahan-Dualla), Liam Maher (Boherlahan-Dualla). Subs used: John McIntyre (Lorrha) and Eamon O’Shea (Kilruane MacDonagh’s).
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