Saturday 24 February 2018

Sexton confident Clare ready to do themselves justice

Keelan Sexton of Clare during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 3A match against Sligo. Photo: Sportsfile
Keelan Sexton of Clare during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 3A match against Sligo. Photo: Sportsfile

Daragh Small

Clare teenager Keelan Sexton is hoping to start a degree in criminal justice at UL in September, but for now, the only study he will be doing is how to break down the Kerry defence.

The Kilmurry Ibrickane sharpshooter - who, despite having only turned 19 recently, is in his second year on the panel - hasn't had much time to fret over his impending Leaving Cert results as he has been at the heart of Clare's extended qualifier run.

Sexton is also an avid boxer but he has put those pugilistic pursuits on hold as he and his Clare team-mates prepare for a rare championship outing in Croke Park.

It will be the Banner's first appearance in an All-Ireland quarter-final - they went directly to the semi-finals when they won the Munster title in 1992 - but after their third win in the qualifiers this year they will aim to avenge their 2-23 to 0-17 Munster semi-final defeat to Kerry.

"Three years ago we were in Division 4, at the bottom of it. Look where we are now. We are going into Division 2 and we are playing in the quarter-final of an All-Ireland," says Sexton.

"That itself shows what Colm Collins does. He gets in everything for you, he makes you want to give 100pc and that's all you can do as a manager."

After losing to Kerry in Killarney on June 12, Clare had to pick up the pieces but they have gone on to beat Laois and Sligo, before surprising Roscommon in Pearse Stadium last Saturday.

And despite being massive underdogs as they renew rivalry with the 2014 All-Ireland champions, Clare will take heart from the fact they've already won at Croke Park this year - in the Division 3 final against Kildare - and are determined to cause another upset.

"When people are telling you you are not going to win, you want to prove them wrong - that's the end of story," says Sexton. "There's even people in Clare that might not be shouting for us at times, thinking we are not going anywhere.

"But it's good to show them that we are progressing and we are competing. We are happy to be where we are but we want more.

"Coming up as a minor and at U-16 we expected to win every game. We went out with the aspiration to win a minor championship and an U-21 championship.

"It might not happen, but we don't fear anyone. That's the mentality we should be having. What's the point in coming up training four or five times a week if you are going to lose a game? You are coming to win."

Irish Independent

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