Sunday 25 February 2018

Treaty eager to turn tables on Clare and end barren Munster run

Limerick manager Billy Lee. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Limerick manager Billy Lee. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Clare and Limerick footballers face a Munster Championship derby with a special level of motivation on both sides at Cusack Park tomorrow.

The Banner County look to build on last year's run to the All-Ireland quarter-finals and want to start by keeping Limerick at bay.

Victories over the men in green at home in 2015 and away last year were much prized and hard-won successes for Colm Collins' side.

Billy Lee, the new Limerick boss who succeeded John Brudair last November, knows this match presents a big opportunity to end the Treaty County's barren period without a Munster victory

Their last win in the province was against Waterford in 2012.

Collins, who has guided Clare to the second tier of the Allianz League as well as to the last eight of the Championship last year, believes in setting high targets for his team.

Interviewed on the Munster GAA website, Collins brought to mind the epic 1992 season when Clare won the provincial title, defeating Kerry in the final.

"It's winning it, that's what constitutes success," he said.

"If you're going out to play in a competition, obviously you want to get your hands on it. It's an even 25 years since we got our hands on it (Munster title). It would be nice to get our hands on it again."

Realistic

That goal remains aspirational. Right now, Collins is pragmatic, focused and realistic in assessing tomorrow's match.

Despite Clare's recent good results against Limerick, he pointed out that there was generally just a kick of a ball between the teams.

Back in 2015, just two points brought Clare through on a 0-15 to 0-13 scoreline at Ennis, while last year at the Gaelic Grounds, the margin was just three (0-16 to 0-13).

Lee, whose backroom team includes former Cork star Paudie Kissane as coach, brings a cohort of young players to the fore, and must plan without experienced Ian Ryan and Seanie Buckley

They are back in training after long term absence through injury but are not fit enough yet for Championship.

On the plus side, Ger Collins and Seamus O'Carroll are named in the full-forward line.

Former county skipper Collins, who had opted out of inter-county football in 2014, and O'Carroll, whose last county appearance was in 2013, came back to the panel at the start of this year.

Lee concedes that there is a gap between the League status of both teams and respects Clare's form of the last couple of seasons but says: "We'll strive to bridge that gap.

"We'll focus on performance and the process of performing, and challenge ourselves to go to Cusack Park and be as competitive and as good as we can be."

Irish Independent

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