Clonlara will aim to draw on every bit of experience when they take to the field this weekend in the Clare SHC Final, they need look no further than between the posts as goalkeeper Ger O’Connell continues to lead by example.
As part of The Clare Herald Clare SHC Final Build-Up, Ger O’Connell spoke with us and couldn’t hide the buzz or excitement that only a Co Final can bring. “I’m feeling great, I’m really looking forward to it, it’s been a while coming so bring it on”.
O’Connell is the oldest member of the Clonlara team, he said he isn’t allowed forget about his age in the dressing room but the input of the younger players this year really impresses him. “The lads remind me, Ian Galvin I’m actually twice his age so he keeps reminding me about it. They’re a great bunch of lads and I am the oldest by a while but the younger lads have really bought into what we’ve been trying to do this year and it’s great to see them evolving throughout the year and they’ve really improved”.
Manager Sean Stack is in his first year in charge of the South East Clare team and according to Ger the most important thing the former Clare centre-back has done was to instil greater belief within the panel. “A bit of belief I think, he’s really got us together as a group, you’d be hearing rumours from outside the camp of what’s going on but we’ve actually never been as close as we are at the moment so it’s a really good feeling”.
An understudy to Davy Fitzgerald as Clare goalkeeper at the beginning of the Millennium, O’Connell rubbishes the notion that the replays Clonlara have had to play will stand to them. The word “annihilated” is used when he refers to their clash with Sixmilebridge in the Clare Cup earlier on this year.
According to the thirty six year old, both sides will have similar game-plans but he feels the crucial thing is just to look after their own affairs. “A bit like ourselves and just concentrate on what we’re doing, we all know each other for years, what they’re going to bring and what we’re going to bring is not going to surprise either of us so I think it’s just whoever performs on the day will win it”.
Just six members of Clonlara’s team have tasted success at this stage whereas each member of the Sixmilebridge team has except for Cathal Malone. Ger is confident their younger players some of whom were mascots in their successful voyage of 08 will be determined to pick up their first medal.
“You’d hope they would be (hungry to get their first medal), we’ve an awful lot of young lads and actually in 2008 there was a couple of them who were nearly mascots on the day, that’s how young some of our lads actually are but you would hope that there would be serious hunger and there is a serious hunger, we really want to win this. We know how hard it’s going to be but we’re really looking forward to it”.
Stay tuned to The Clare Herald all this week as we get the views from both Clonlara and Sixmilebridge ahead of Sunday’s crunch game at Cusack Park which throws-in at 15:00.