Thursday 16 August 2018

'We handed the initiative to Galway' - Jamesie O'Connor picks out tactical decision that hurt Clare in replay loss

5 August 2018; The Clare team stand for the national anthem prior to the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final replay match between Galway and Clare at Semple Stadium in Thurles, Co Tipperary. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
5 August 2018; The Clare team stand for the national anthem prior to the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final replay match between Galway and Clare at Semple Stadium in Thurles, Co Tipperary. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Will Slattery

Will Slattery

Clare legend Jamesie O'Connor thinks the Banner were wrong to employ a sweeper against Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final replay as it 'handed the initiative' to the Tribesmen.

Colm Galvin was highly effective in the role in the drawn game in Croke Park but O'Connor feels that Galway were well prepared for the tactic in Thurles for the rematch, which Micheal Donoghue's men won by a point to advance to the All-Ireland final.

Galway did most of the damage in the opening 20 minutes, with the champions opening up a commanding 1-9 to 0-3 advantage and speaking on The Throw-In, Independent.ie's GAA podcast, O'Connor says that he was disappointed with how Clare set up in the opening period.

"It will probably haunt the players for a long time to come," O'Connor said of the narrow defeat.

"When you shoot that many wides and hit the post with two minutes left and only lose by a point, you are going to be scratching your head and going to be wondering why we didn't win it.

"From the start I was a bit disappointed that we started with the sweeper as we handed the initiative to Galway. The first half was played on their terms. We should have been further behind at the break.

"The team showed huge courage to get back into it. The feeling in Clare is that the players gave us a great summer and left everything they had out on the pitch on both days."

For the third game in-a-row, Galway opened up a big lead only for their opponents to roar back into the contest. O'Connor said it is hard to put your finger on why Galway are struggling to pull clear during matches, but points to the lack of form of some crucial players as a possible explanation.

"A lot of Galway players are struggling for form," he said.

"Conor Cooney is one who hasn't regained the form he showed last year. Niall Burke has been in and out of games. Conor Whelan has been largely good but starved of possession at times as has Cathal Mannion. Having said that, Clare led for about a minute across the two games and I was really impressed with that aspect of Galway. Every time they were level, Galway were able to come back down the field and get a score."

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