Saturday 24 February 2018

Donal Óg Cusack: There's no magic to Clare revival, just hard work

Cusack: Not getting carried away
Cusack: Not getting carried away

Michael Verney

All around there's a bubbling enthusiasm as Clare announce their return to hurling's top table but Donal Óg Cusack is quick to pour cold water on their demolition of Kilkenny in the "second-grade hurling competition".

From start to finish it was clear that the Banner were back after two years in the wilderness, with much credit heaped on new coach/selector Cusack, who has helped Clare rediscover their mojo.

The former Cork goalkeeper downplayed his role within the revolution, however, insisting that there's no "magic" reasons behind their transformation. He hasn't waved a magic wand, the answer is simple, they're putting the work in

While delighted with the victory, he realises that April is League time and the prospect of facing the Cats come championship will be an entirely different one.

"We're very happy, we came to Thurles to win and we achieved that. But everyone will say it's still early days and it's still the secondary competition in the sport that we play so we're under no illusions with that," Cusack told Newstalk's Rewind podcast.

"But yes, we're very satisfied with the performance and the attitude of everyone. I'm only new in the door but what I've seen is everybody putting their shoulder to the wheel. That's it, no magic to it.

"Like the rest of the lads, I'm going there every night and giving what I have to it. We're all committed to do everything to the best of our ability and I'm just delighted to be part of that. We're satisfied with the display but this is the second-grade competition."

He may have downplayed his influence on the squad but the speed of their puck-outs, the solidity of their defensive structure, and the rejuvenation of players like Darach Honan, Colm Galvin and Conor McGrath have his name stamped all over them.

Honan's move away from the confines of the full-forward line have reaped dividends. It's a sign of the times with Cusack believing that Brian Cody's Cats were the first to develop the trend of numbers and positions meaning little in the modern game. "I'd be a big fan of Darach. He's a big man, he's got good pace and good movement. He's probably a player whose more associated with playing on the edge of the square but he's comfortable playing anywhere," he said.

"Is that not the way the game has gone? Because players need to be comfortable in a range of positions. The game is gone so fluid. You saw at stages in the game there was only four of five players in one half.

"You've seen that a lot, especially with Kilkenny over the last 10 years, even though a lot of people would have felt that they were playing a traditional 3-3-2-3-3."

"It happens very often that you would see a game where they only had two attackers. That's the way the game has gone and they've been the leaders in that."

Their League final meeting with Waterford will be a dress rehearsal for their Munster SHC opener on June 5, a clash of similar styles with both sides utilising a sweeper system. But three-time All-Ireland winner Cusack doesn't expect either to hold back.

"I don't think it will affect either side. This is the second-tier competition. Obviously you want to win every game that you play and I think that'll be our attitude."

Irish Independent

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