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McDermott backs his underdogs to press on

WHY stop now? That's the message of Kilmurry-Ibrickane manager Micheal McDermott to his shock troops from Clare who look forward to the AIB All-Ireland Club football final on St Patrick's Day.

McDermott's merry men turned the tables on the form book by knocking out a fancied Portlaoise side in what turned out to be a controversial semi-final, thereby becoming the first side from the Banner County to reach the St Patrick's Day showpiece.

Indeed, it emerged yesterday that the decision of the Portlaoise St Patrick's Day Committee to postpone their March 17 parade spurred on the Clare kingpins. But with one job out of the way McDermott is calling for another huge effort from his men.

He expects the Munster champions to again be the underdogs against the winners of the refixed Corofin v St Gall's semi-final, and that suits his team.

"We're going to approach this game the same way we approached the semi-final -- just work hard for the three and a half weeks and see whatever or wherever the journey brings us.

"If it brings victory that's fantastic, but either way, we will be giving it everything in the final," declared McDermott.

Yesterday, the team boss was back at work in Limerick, while the team had carte blanche to enjoy the celebrations with their supporters.

McDermott had no problems with his players letting their hair down. In his view they've earned it -- but tomorrow night, it's back to the grind of the training pitch.

"We're going to be realistic," he said. "Corofin and St Gall's have huge experience behind them and whichever of them gets through to the final is going to be favourites."

That semi-final, which was called off on Sunday morning due to overnight snow in Dublin, has been refixed for Saturday evening at Parnell Park (7.30).

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It gives Kilmurry-Ibrickane a double bonus: first, McDermott and his backroom team can assess their final opponents 'live' and second, the Clare side will have the benefit of an extra week to build up for the March 17 decider.

They will also have Declan Callinan back from suspension. Callinan was banned for four weeks on TV evidence of the quarter-final in London. McDermott agrees that his team caught everybody, particularly Portlaoise, by surprise with their blitzkrieg start and the intensity of their performance.

"The most pleasing thing for us was that nobody left anything behind them on the field. They gave it everything they had," he said.

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