There's a part of any good Clare man that always wants to get one over on Tipperary. For Ger Loughnane, 1997 was all the sweeter form 1995 because Clare beat Tipp in both the Munster and All-Ireland finals. The idea of Nicky English "laughing" at Clare in the 1993 Munster final was posted on the dressing room wall, so to speak. It's always about Tipp.
Keep this in mind when assessing Loughnane's bizarre cut at Tipp in his column today in the Irish Daily Star.
Tipperary won the All-Ireland last year with almost unprecedented ease. They won all five of their games by a combined 42 points. They beat Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Galway and Kilkenny. Only Galway gave them any real trouble. It was as impressive a season as you're likely to see for a long time. Since then they cruised into a League final pulling up, before ultimately putting in a stinker against a much superior Galway in the Gaelic Grounds yesterday. A bad day at the office surely? Nothing to overreact about. Their bona fides are secure and are still strong favourites to lift Liam MacCarthy in September?
Not according to Loughnane. He believes this Tipperary team suffer from the same problems of complacency as the teams of 2001 and 2010, who never kicked on after winning All-Irelands, despite assumptions of new eras of dominance ahead. Loughnane blames the media's anointing of Tipp as the next great team as the reason for their fall.
The softness and complacency has been fed by the commentary around this Tipperary team.
Some have been comparing them to Kilkenny, even though they haven't put All-Ireland back-to-back!
Comparisons have been made with the Dublin footballers, with claims that Tipp's second 15 is as strong a their first team.
What utter nonsense. Tipp had five or six players playing yesterday that aren't top class inter-county hurlers. So how can you talk of Tipp being great? This isn't even a good Tipperary team, let alone a great one.
Loughnane took a break from his usual attack on spineless Galway, perhaps saving it for the Championship when yesterday's performance can be used against them. The former Clare and Galway manager claims that a truly great team wouldn't have an off day of the scale of yesterday's 16 point defeat.
True, they have their good days, but days like yesterday make it clear how far they have to travel.
A good team, let alone a great team, wouldn't be beaten out the gate like Tipp were by Galway yesterday.
A good team, let alone a great team, wouldn't give up an eight-point lead to an average Kilkenny side on their own turf in Thurles.
He also claimed the Tipperary backs couldn't handle the physicality and pace of the Galway forwards, something that could be exposed again in future. Based on yesterday's evidence, it's a point that's hard to disagree with, but though we're loathe to use the phrase, it is "only the League" and we think it's wiser to reserve judgment on Tipperary at least until their Munster Championship opener with Cork in a month's time. Their performances in the last 12 months have earned that much.
You can read Loughnane full column in today's Irish Daily Star.