What a difference a year makes -- that's what the Clare football faithful were saying in a wet and windy Miltown Malbay yesterday afternoon as the county's footballers opened their season with a win.
Frank Doherty's side started in very low-key fashion with a comfortable five-point win yet it should have been more, such was Clare's dominance.
A strong defence and the tactic of route-one football into the full-forward line was the key to Clare's success. And it was the youngest man on the field David Connole who showed the way at the back for the Bannermen all through.
Clare made a fast start thanks to a flurry of long balls played into full-forward Colm Dillon putting UCC's defence under tremendous pressure.
UCC's forward failure brought an end to their hopes of upsetting the odds. Stephen Hickey found the range for the third time in the 45th minute, Clare moved five clear.
SCORERS -- Clare: F O'Dea (0-1), S Hickey (0-3), D Tubridy (0-2f), C Dillon (0-1), M O'Shea (0-2). UCC: L Shorten (0-1), B Mulvihill (0-3).
Clare -- J Hayes, L Healy, C Whelan, D Connole, G Kelly, F Conway, E Doyle, D Kelly, F O'Dea, J Larkin, S Hickey, N Considine, D Tubridy, C Dillon, M O'Shea. Subs: E Coughlan for Tubridy, K Whelan for Dillon, K Larkin for J Larkin.
UCC --T Mac An tSaoir, M Fitzgerald, E Cotter, D Ó Sé, C Connery, S Enright, G Barry, D Farrell, R O'Sullivan, L Shorten, M O'Dononghue, M Mennis, D Kearney, BJ O'Sullivan, B Mulvihill. Subs: P Donnellan for Farrell, F Gould for Kearney, K O'Keefe for O'Sullivan
REF -- M Meade (Limerick)