| 17°C Dublin

Blooming Banner can conquer Cork

Close

2 June 2013; Shane O'Donnell, Clare. Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship, Quarter-Final, Clare v Waterford, Semple Stadium, Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

2 June 2013; Shane O'Donnell, Clare. Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship, Quarter-Final, Clare v Waterford, Semple Stadium, Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

2 June 2013; Shane O'Donnell, Clare. Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship, Quarter-Final, Clare v Waterford, Semple Stadium, Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

IT was hard to see any other prevailing force in Clare's win over Waterford other than their youth and by extension – and in fairness Davy Fitzgerald's design – their extraordinary fitness levels.

Polished it most certainly was not up until such time as Shane O'Donnell struck their goal, but even that game-turning score had a large slice of luck about it.

Tony Kelly lined up a close-in free (Colin Ryan was Clare's freetaker all day) and aims at goal with the teams level at 0-14 to 1-11. The shot is blocked and Kevin Moran tries to clear but is blocked by Peter Duggan, Clare's substitute who was later taken off.

It falls, kindly, for teenager O'Donnell (who, at the time, Clare were actively trying to substitute) and he instinctively delivers the killer swipe to put the Banner a goal up and let their enviable fitness levels take over to ease into tomorrow's semi-final with Cork.

Other than that, the only thing better about Clare this year over last is their intelligence and willingness to keep their calm in the face of a typically spirited Waterford onslaught and await their chance, whenever it came.

And in truth, the match should bring the Banner on a fair distance going into Limerick tomorrow and a tangle with Cork which has all the hallmarks of a guard-changing moment about it should Fitzgerald's men prevail.

Because there is nothing so exciting as the bloom of youth.

And it is, much to the Sixmilebridge man's great annoyance, seen pretty much as a rite of passage that Clare will insert themselves back at hurling's top table, firstly at Munster's apex before launching a 90s-style assault on the national scene.

Which, of course, puts plenty of pressure on those trying to make it happen but such expectation is par for the course when a county wins two All-Ireland U21 titles in such close succession like Clare.

Cork, meanwhile, are funny right now. No team in Ireland has undergone such upheaval and not all or close to it has been by the design of Jimmy Barry Murphy.

They could, in reality, do anything tomorrow and that covers the spectrum of both good and bad. And if Davy Fitz thought he was having a hard time keeping levels of optimism from exploding all over his own county, JBM carries an entirely different weight of expectation, especially after a fairly progressive 2012.

Speaking of fitness levels, it must be noted than when the teams played in the League, Clare won the second half by 1-15 to 1-1 and had they not blasted so many wides in the relegation play-off, would have posted similar figures.

They also have in Tony Kelly and the returned Darach Honan, two forwards of the highest calibre.

Nothing but nothing would surprise us here but least of all, a Clare win.

ODDS: Clare 8/11, Odds 10/1, Cork 13/10

VERDICT: Clare


Privacy