Monday 24 July 2017

McDermott inspiring Banner with 'All-Ireland' final vision

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

A week after the disappointment of losing the All-Ireland club football final with Kilmurry-Ibrickane, Micheal McDermott has told his Clare team: "You're getting ready for an All-Ireland final too."

McDermott, who combined a hectic dual role as Kilmurry and Clare manager, hasn't a date in Croke Park next September in mind, but rather next Sunday's Division 4 league clash with Longford in Pearse Park.

Clare lead the table with full points from five games but face Longford, Limerick and Waterford over the next few weeks in games which will decide whether his improving side go up.

"I've been telling the lads that each game is like an All-Ireland final now. We always felt that if we were to have a chance of promotion, we'd have to win our first five games because we have a very tough finish," said McDermott.

"Longford might be outside the promotion race but they are a very good side and are unlucky to be so far down the table while Limerick and Waterford are challenging strongly for promotion."

While Kilmurry-Ibrickane may not have enjoyed much luck in their, fortune has smiled on Clare, who have beaten Wicklow, Leitrim and Carlow by a point each.

"The Wicklow game was crucial because it was the first in the league and confidence wouldn't have been too high in the Clare camp after last year. We came from seven points down to win by one against a very good Wicklow team, which was a huge boost. It set us up nicely for the rest of the campaign," said McDermott.

Excellent

Clare have an excellent defensive record -- especially when it comes to goals -- but then it's an area where teams have excelled under McDermott. Kilmurry didn't concede a single goal in six Munster and All-Ireland ties, and London are the only opposition to have scored a goal against Clare so far. That's one goal conceded in 11 games in total, a return which speaks volumes for McDermott's defensive organisation.

"We work on the basis that everybody is a defender when the opposition has the ball. We try to keep the pressure and the tempo as high as possible. If you avoid conceding goals, you're always in with a great chance," he said.

However, that miserly streak wasn't quite enough to rescue Kilmurry against St Gall's in the All-Ireland final.

"St Gall's deserved to win but I've looked back on the DVD and I reckon that nine of their 13 points came from situations where we lost possession," said McDermott.

"A high-class team like St Gall's will always punish you when they get the chance. It was a great achievement for us to reach the final, we gave it our best shot and came up short but that's football. You learn and move on."

He was straight back on Clare duty (they beat Carlow last Sunday) and is now planning for the visit to Longford. Four of the Kilmurry team have joined the Clare panel and others will follow, although McDermott warns that they will all have to work extremely hard if they are to force their way onto the team.

"The lads who were already there have done a great job so far. It's all part of a process and adding the Kilmurry boys to the squad will increase our options.

"For now, it's all about Longford on Sunday. It's like another All-Ireland final and if we win there it's on to another All-Ireland final against Limerick the following week. That's how we're viewing every game now," said McDermott.

Irish Independent

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