For the second time in three years Clare have made the last sixteen of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.
At the beginning of the year Clare pinpointed reaching this stage of the competition as one of their main ambitions for 2016. Now that this has been achieved, manager Colm Collins is looking to make the final twelve. “At the start of the year we set out our targets and we said that we have to try at least get into the last twelve, we’re still one game away from that so let’s see if we tidy up on our mistakes today and be better again next week”.
Although they were never ahead until the seventieth minute, Collins always believed they could get a result. “We always felt that with the breeze down here that we would get our chance, happy enough at half time that we were three points down and we felt it was very very achievable and as it proved we kicked some lovely points towards the end of the game to swing it and delighted in particular for Shane McGrath, he’s had a tough year he’s an excellent footballer but he dug it out for us at the end and he had the guts to go for it and fair play to him”.
Reflecting on their one point win, the Kilmihill native states that he knew it would be a close game but laments the amount of times Clare coughed up possession to Laois. “The one thing that was killing us was turning over the ball, if you keep the ball and be patient that’s the main thing and we turned over some really silly ones but listen we’ve plenty to work on, the bar gets raised we’re going to be playing serious opposition the next day, there’s no room for patting ourselves on the back, we’ve got to up it, we’ve got to sort out what didn’t go well today and be a better team next week please god”.
Substitutes played a key role for the men in Saffron and Blue as the fresh faces of Shane McGrath, Seánie Malone, Podge Collins, Enda Coughlan and Dean Ryan all had an impact on the game.
Collins reveals it’s a big asset to be able to introduce quality players from the bench. “It’s fantastic to be able to introduce four players who made such a contribution and it’s something that has struck us in the past and thankfully we’ve plenty more that still haven’t been used. We had another man ready to come on when Jamie got the black card and Tubs was warmed up, it wasn’t a slight on our subs bench it was just he was ready. We thought at one stage that there was going to be a free so we were going to bring him on for that”.
Winning in such dramatic fashion will give everyone involved a massive lift according to the Clare boss who has oversaw two successive league promotions in as many years. “It is great momentum and the hurlers had a great win yesterday and it’s good for everybody that things are going really well”.