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Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald will be boosted by his side's victory over Dublin yesterday

Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald will be boosted by his side's victory over Dublin yesterday

SPORTSFILE

Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald will be boosted by his side's victory over Dublin yesterday

So Clare finally got some league points on the board, but this victory could be worth so much more to them. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it could prove to be a turning point in their year.

What happened during the week can't be swept under the carpet and the stories emanating from the camp were the last thing anyone involved in Clare hurling wanted to be reading about.

But when it came down to it yesterday - reduced to 14 men and trailing Dublin by four points early in the second half - the leaders in the team really rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

There was no evidence that these guys weren't playing for the jersey or the manager and that will come as a great boost to Davy Fitzgerald. A big couple of weeks still lie ahead. Clare have to go to Nowlan Park and get a result next weekend but the future looks a lot brighter now than it did yesterday morning.

The interview Davy gave after the Tipperary match last Sunday to Newstalk's Oisín Langan was measured and calm, words that might surprise many given Clare's winless start to this year's league.

He articulated well how he believed his players were trying to do the right things with the ball, pointed out that mistakes had been made, and cheap scores coughed up as a result. But he was firm in his belief that if they kept trying to do the right things, eventually things would turn around, and when that happened Clare would be a match for anybody.

The speculation in Friday's Irish Times that midfielder Colm Galvin could be off to the US on a J1 this summer wasn't healthy. The defections of David O'Halloran and Nicky O Connell, and the interview given by O'Halloran to The Irish Times yesterday is further evidence of apparent disharmony in the camp. And that's on top of the Cratloe situation, where both Podge and Seán Collins, and Cathal McInerney - all panel members in 2013 - are now playing football.

Ultimately, this is a results-based business. Defeats to Tipperary in the league semi-final, Cork and Wexford in last year's championship, and Galway, Cork and Tipperary in 2015 meant that until yesterday Clare hadn't won a competitive game since beating Laois in the league quarter-final last year.

Young players are not happy with lack of game time in the league. But with only five games in the first phase, the current format hardly lends itself to experimentation on a grand scale. Conor Cleary, Bobby Duggan, David Reidy, Shane Golden, Aaron Cunningham, Jack Browne and Paul Flanagan had all played at least 35 minutes.

Pressure is on to win that second All-Ireland. In 1997, the Clare team I was part of trained harder than probably any other side in the country. Doubts may have existed deep down in our psyches, and that winning mentality had to be forged in a different manner.

The current crop though are coming from a different place. They have grown up winning, and with a completely different underage pedigree.

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