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Fitzgerald under no illusions ahead of Dubs 'backlash'

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Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald

Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald

Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald

Beating Kilkenny always represents a good afternoon's work but Davy Fitzgerald didn't spend long enjoying the afterglow of a successful take-off to the new league season.

Instead, he was concerned by the news from Pearse Stadium that Galway had trimmed Dublin. Fitzgerald takes the All-Ireland champions to Parnell Park next Sunday to take on the Leinster champions and believes that Dublin's dismal experience in Salthill will galvanise them for a powerful backlash.

"If you get a bad beating, there is only one way you are going to respond. Dublin are going to come out and throw the kitchen sink at us. They got a beating today so they will be like men possessed the next day. My job is to get the lads, who are after giving everything today, to get up to that high pitch again the next day. It's just another thing we have to learn to deal with," he said.

Dealing with new experiences comes quite easily to Clare these days and while Fitzgerald was pleased to have won the most high-profile game of the NHL's first round, he kept it very much in perspective.

"Kilkenny could have won that game just as easily as we did. We are under no illusions. We still have an awful lot to work to do. I think what helped us in the end was the subs we used. They gave us a bit of momentum. We know we are probably not just fit enough yet, not near what we want anyway," Fitzgerald added.

BUZZ

"That's why we decided to bring in the subs; it wasn't because the lads were playing badly, it was just that we needed to get new blood in there to try and give us a small bit of a buzz coming into the last 10 minutes. I thought it worked okay.

"But look, I'm not reading too much into it. Kilkenny had practically half their regular team out today. Trust me, Kilkenny are going to have a big say this year. I know it."

Brian Cody was pleased with aspects of Kilkenny's performance but felt disappointed that their efforts yielded no league points.

"There were a lot of good points about our performance. Lads played very decently and while we had a lot of inexperienced players throughout the field, they did well," Cody said.

"We were very much in the game at all times. The Clare goal was a bit of a setback and then we had a chance of a goal that didn't go in. Overall, our performance wasn't bad but obviously I'd much prefer to win the game."

Asked if he planned to play Henry Shefflin on a regular basis throughout the league he said that there was no definite plan for any player. "We assess the situation from week to week; we look at the injury situation, see who's available and take it from there," he added.

Fitzgerald claimed to have been shocked by the efficiency of Clare's performance, having suggested last month that they might struggle in the early stages of the league.

"I didn't think they would have that much in the tank," he said. "We got a right trimming in the Waterford Crystal (Cup) – maybe that hurt them. They showed great courage out there today. These conditions wouldn't be ideal for us but the lads worked very hard to get through it."

Despite this early success, Fitzgerald warned that Clare have some tricky times ahead.

"I think they will be patchy because it is going to be hard for the lads to get up that high every single day. If they do, they won't have much left in the tank come the middle of the year. We have to be very conscious of that. To get that kind of a performance out of them took a lot over the last week.

"I am telling you that you will come back to me in the middle of the league and tell me what I said here in Cusack Park, that they will be patchy at times. I honestly believe that," he said.

As for Kilkenny, it's all about team-building, a process that will involve a considerable amount of experimenting over the next two months.

"We'll keep working away. There's no big massive plan. We'll try and win matches and play as well as we possibly can. We need to build a panel of players so we'll look at as many as we can," Cody said. "It's a very competitive league. All the teams are capable of beating each other on a given day."

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