Thursday 18 January 2018

Clare have self-belief to edge battle of emerging talents against Limerick

AT half-time in Ennis last Saturday evening, you wouldn't have needed particularly good hearing to pick up criticisms of Davy Fitzgerald. Clare's handpassing game wasn't to the liking of many Clare supporters, especially when it was accompanied by a deficit which looked as if it might be enough to end the Banner's interest in the championship.

Clare went on to turn things around and with it came the eulogies for Davy. Such are the contrasts managers encounter all the time!

Clare's clash with Limerick this evening is an appetising prospect between two squads on the rise. Limerick held the edge in both of last year's league clashes but Clare won 2-0 this year. The manner in which Clare battled back last week was hugely impressive -- but then they have great self-belief at present.

Take young Tony Kelly, who showed huge self-confidence when driving a free to the Dublin net. It underlined a key difference between the teams: Clare believed, Dublin didn't.

The Cusack Park factor was a big plus for Clare but the raw, passionate support was only part of the success story. Clare are making rapid progress and have all the building blocks in place to construct something really solid in coming seasons.

Limerick are strengthening nicely too but I'd fancy Clare to keep the roll going.

Cork will probably join them but can expect a fiercely intense response from Wexford. Liam Dunne will have Wexford primed to turn this into as much of a physical battle as possible in the hope of knocking Cork off their stride.

No prizes for guessing the direction Jimmy Barry-Murphy is taking Cork. He promoted Christopher Joyce to first-choice centre-back last weekend and has now drafted in another debutant, Damien Cahalane, at full-back.

JBM is building a new team, while at the same time hoping to make real progress in the championship. The process goes hand-in-hand, since the more experience the young lads get, the better they will be next year.

Irish Independent

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