Sunday 23 July 2017

O'Connor: This is a glorious opportunity for the Banner

Clare legend Jamesie O’Connor. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile
Clare legend Jamesie O’Connor. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile

Michael Verney

The heart often rules the head when it comes to nailing your GAA colours to the mast but Clare legend Jamesie O'Connor has no hesitation in saying that the Banner will take advantage of "a glorious opportunity" against Limerick on Sunday.

Win and a place in the Munster final is theirs, lose (as they have in eight of their last nine Munster ties) and it's a treacherous Qualifier route where All-Ireland winners Tipperary could await.

Compared to other years, the fanfare in Clare is absent and under joint-managers Donal Moloney and Gerry O'Connor, who guided them to an U-21 All-Ireland three-in-a-row, they are "keeping the heads down" in a "very low-key" build-up.

While two-time All-Ireland winner O'Connor feels their Semple Stadium clash could make or break their season, he expects them to have too much nous for a Treaty side "in transition".

"It is a glorious opportunity because it's such a massive game, you're guaranteed a Munster final. I played in six Munster finals in my career, you just take it as a given but our record in Munster is deplorable," he said.

Must-win

"I don't think it's been deliberate but the reality is we haven't been good enough and there is no excuse now. Limerick are clearly in transition and we are the more experienced side and it's an absolute must-win game for Clare. If they win the whole season opens up."

While he questions the Banner's ability to beat three or four of the big guns en route to replicating their 2013 Liam MacCarthy success, he does view them as "dark horses" if the likes of Tony Kelly, Conor McGrath and Shane O'Donnell hit top gear.

Their style of play under Davy Fitzgerald, utilising a sweeper in defence, has drawn the ire of many supporters but the four-time All-Star expects a more conventional approach this year and believes they will be hurting.

"These guys are an ambitious bunch of players and they're accustomed to success, it hurts Clare. Hurt drove the Tipperary lads last year, and it hurts Clare that their record in Munster is what it is and they haven't gotten back to Croke Park," he added.

"I think you'll see resolve this year, the clock is ticking to get back there. I can't put my finger on any one thing why we haven't kicked on, ultimately maybe we haven't been good enough.

"Maybe we're not good enough but I think you'll see the best of Clare this year and I'm intrigued if you do see them at their best, how will they stack up against the best? I'd like to think they wouldn't be far away."

Irish Independent

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