It may be a work in progress but for David O’Brien and the Clare Senior Football panel, provincial glory is the definitive aim.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s Munster Football quarter-final versus Limerick, the Clare selector points out that he has been very happy with how their young panel has reacted when things haven’t went in their favour.
“It’s a work in progress, it’s a very young panel, it’s something that we’d be mindful of we’ll keep making mistakes and it’s how we rectify them. I think the positive for us throughout out the year is that anytime we’ve lost a game we’ve managed to win the game after that so it shows that there is a learning process going on. Hopefully going into the Championship some of the things that we didn’t do well in the League we’ll work on and improve”.
Twenty four years ago, Clare won the Munster Senior Football Championship for the second time in the County’s history. O’Brien admits that a lot more work needs to be done for Clare to be back in such a position but it is the potential of glory that is inspiring them.
“We were all very young the last time Clare won it. We won’t get above our station too quickly. It would be unbelievable for Clare, you can just see on the big days when the hurlers are coming back to Clare winning All-Irelands and hopefully they’ll go on and win a Munster aswell. It would be unbelievable for the County and it’s something nobody would expect and I don’t know how we would react we might never be seen again but it’s the ultimate goal, we just know we’re an awful lot of steps below that right now and it’s about working on trying to get as good as we can and hopefully someday the chance will present itself”.
This year the Banner are attempting to be more economical in their use of possession and it is something the Miltown man is confident that it is working. “With the ball we’re pretty strong, we’ve put up good scores, we’ve players that are comfortable on the ball so that’s definitely a strength with us, movement with the ball fairly quickly and it’s working for us. In the League you’ll get a bit more space than in Championship so it’s something we have to be ready for. We’ve worked a lot on that this year and it’s reaping its rewards at the minute”.
Clare had six points to spare over Limerick in their National Football League meeting on February 28th. The Clare management are leaving that game in the past and feel it will have no relevance on Sunday’s tie.
“In fairness the day we played in Newcastlewest the pitch was a bit narrower than it will be in the Gaelic Grounds so the game was a little bit stop start, I think we scored a lot of frees, they got a lot of frees so the Gaelic Grounds will be that little bit bigger. It was in February so it’s hard to read into how teams were playing then, we would hope we’ve improved, there’s no doubt at all that Limerick will have improved. On gameplans and things like that you’d probably read more into what’s going on now than what happened then. It was stop start and it’s something we would hope to try have worked on and I’m sure Limerick will be working the exact same way”.
At the beginning of the year, the goal of Colm Collins and his panel of players was to avoid relegation from Division 3 of the League. They would go on to secure promotion to Division 2 and beat Kildare in the League Final.
“Anything we looked for in the League we more or less got out of it and the bonus was picking up the win in Croke Park, at the start of the year it wasn’t really something that was in our agenda, it was more or less to try stay up first and if you can get your four points or five points you see how much games are left at that and it happened fairly quickly for us that we got safe enough and we’d just keep going and it worked out that we got promoted and we got to Croke Park then and it was a pressure free day, it was just go up and play and we got the result but I suppose the real reward was before Croke Park at all getting promoted”.
For now Clare are fully concentrating on Sunday’s opposition. The former Clare Ladies Football manager believes a clash of the neighbours will make the contest all the more exciting. “There’s never anything between Clare and Limerick, it’s a rivalry, we’ve a lot of players that are within a mile or two of the Limerick border and it’s great because it’s something on the back of the successful League, what you really needed was a really big game to get everyone settled, the League was forgotten about straight away and it’s not going to come any bigger than Limerick.”