'They’re in the same category as Waterford, it’s the end of the road'- John Mullane on Clare's collapse
Clare’s optimism for this year's hurling championship has been shattered after two hammerings at the hands of Tipperary and Limerick in the Munster hurling championship round robin.
The Banner had started well in their campaign, winning away from home to Waterford, but Deise legend John Mullane believes that Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor’s men are closer to Páraic Fanning’s demoralised troops than All-Ireland contenders.
"They’re in the same category as Waterford, I think it’s the end of the road for this Clare team," Mullane said on The Throw-in podcast, in association with Bord Gáis Energy.
"I could be proven wrong this weekend, they could beat Cork above in Ennis, but I just can’t see it."
Mullane believes Clare have failed to unearth new talent and, like Waterford, need to rebuild for next season.
"They’ve had the same 25 players the last five years and I’ve not really seen any new talent being brought through, another Tony Kelly or a Shane O’Donnell," he said.
The former Waterford player believes the Banner are too reliant on these danger-men and need new faces to step up to the plate.
"I think it’s becoming too easy to play against them now, you mark Shane O’Donnell and Tony Kelly out of it and you go a long way to beating this Clare team," said Mullane.
Mullane defended Clare full-forward John Conlan for not producing the same form of last year, highlighting the Clare target-man as a soldier of this team over the past decade.
"I wouldn’t be too hard on John Conlan, he’s after being a soldier for Clare for the last few years, a bit like [Michael] ‘Brick’ Walsh and Kevin Moran, you couldn’t really point the finger at John Conlan," said Mullane.
Instead he urges Moloney and O’Connor’s management team and the players to reinvent themselves and their game, possibly with young talent.
"They have to reinvent themselves, I think Tony Kelly needs to reinvent himself, he’s too easy to mark, he goes back into his own half too often," said Mullane.
"They were beaten all over the field yesterday, there wasn’t one lad, bar Peter Duggan, who could hold their hand up and say that they tried hard."
"Do I see any way back for them? I don’t. I think it’s a rebuild job. Whether the managers stay on or not, I don’t know, but they’re in a similar place to my Waterford."