Sunday 17 December 2017

Banner's lack of support a factor - Cunningham

Aaron Cunningham. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Aaron Cunningham. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Aaron Cunningham has admitted "disappointment" with the strength of the Clare support in last Sunday's Munster hurling final, expressing the hope that they can turn out in numbers for the first inter-county match in the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday week when they face Tipperary in an All-Ireland quarter-final.

Cunningham, speaking at yesterday's launch of the All-Ireland hurling championships in the impressive Glynn-Barntown GAA club facilities just outside Wexford town, said that while they knew they would be outnumbered by the Red Army, they still expected a bigger support which didn't materialise.

The strength of Cork's resurgence had seen almost 110,000 supporters watch their three games, leading to a 27 per cent overall footfall increase for the Munster Council.

Cunningham admits they were taken aback initially by the sea of red that hit them when they emerged out on to Semple Stadium and the wall of noise that subsequently accompanied it.

He can't put a finger on why the appetite was less than it should have been. "It's disappointing. It's not as if Clare have been in Munster finals every second year and people had been sick of going to them or losing them.

"It was our first Munster final since 2008, we hadn't won it since 1998. We were expecting a huge crowd but they just didn't come. Very disappointing.

"Hopefully they can get out the next day. Maybe Páirc Uí Chaoimh might encourage a few of them to go down and make a trip out of that.

"When you go out and see the sea of red you're thinking, 'What's going on here'. We obviously knew Cork had a huge following and we were going to be outnumbered but even the Clare end looked like a sea of red to us.

"The difference when the Cork team ran out and when the Clare team ran out was completely chalk and cheese. The two goals were both scored at vital times and the difference in the roar from the supporters," he said.

The replacement Banner forward feels the roar of the crowd can't be underestimated and helped to get Cork over the line.

"It's great when you score and the crowd gets behind you," he said. "It really does push you on when you feel like you are emptying and you haven't much more to give, it helps you on. The last couple of minutes when the game was over, the Cork crowd were chanting and getting behind the players, it definitely got them over the line."

Clare will make a trip to Páirc Uí Chaoimh to familiarise themselves with the new surroundings over the weekend and Cunningham feels it will create added excitement for players as well as supporters.

"I think once we go down there and see the top-class facility that will probably bring the excitement once we get to look at the dressing-rooms and get out on the pitch. Everyone wants to play in the best facilities that they can so the excitement will start building."

He says the team are left with the lingering feeling that the are short-changing themselves. "We did underperform. It seems to be something that we do more regular than we like over the last couple of years. We definitely believe that we are better than we showed."



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Irish Independent

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