Monday 23 October 2017

Collins keeps his faith in Banner players for daunting Kerry clash

Clare manager Colm Collins. Photo: Sportsfile
Clare manager Colm Collins. Photo: Sportsfile
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Clare football manager Colm Collins wants his team to adopt a "no regrets" policy in the Munster semi-final against Kerry at Cusack Park, Ennis on Sunday week.

All he asks is that the players live up to their potential, particularly in reference to their most recent clashes with the Kingdom when the manager reckoned Clare did not do themselves justice.

Clare faced the might of Kerry twice last summer - the first time in the provincial semi-final, which they lost by 2-23 to 0-17, and again in the last eight of the All-Ireland series when Kerry again came out on top, this time by 2-16 to 0-11.

Any slender hopes of a Clare threat in the 2016 Munster fixture at Fitzgerald Stadium were dashed early when the visitors conceded two goals inside the first five minutes.

By July 31, when Clare's historic run through the qualifers brought them to the All-Ireland quarter-finals, Eamonn Fitzmaurice's men had ramped up their season and had their eyes on the big guns to come.

Again, Kerry put two goals into the Clare net, one in each half, and there was no stopping them.

Options

That said, Collins felt his team could, and should, have performed better, although by that stage, they were playing their fourth game in as many weeks.

"We've got excellent footballers. When they play and they take the right options, and when they put away their chances, they're a really good side," said Collins.

"I felt last year that we just didn't play, and that on the day, even Kerry would admit they didn't really perform to their level, and we didn't trouble them.

"I think there's a lot more in this team and hopefully it comes out in two weeks time."

From Collins' perspective, the close shave against Limerick at the weekend - a one-point victory in Ennis - was a relief and a warning, and he was relieved that the Banner can put all their focus on playing Kerry.

"If you control a game, you've got to put the ball over the bar and in the net and we didn't, but thankfully we live to fight another day," he said.

≠ Galway last night suffered a blow to their summer hopes after manager Michael O'Donoghue confirmed defender Paul Killeen suffered a cruciate injury during their Leinster hurling quarter-final victory over Dublin on Sunday afternoon. The injury "will rule him out of action for the remainder of the season", a Galway statement said.

Irish Independent

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