Wednesday 13 December 2017

McGrath embraces new Banner roaming role as he looks to 'cut out the wides'

Conor McGrath, Clare, in action against Stephen Walsh, Limerick
Conor McGrath, Clare, in action against Stephen Walsh, Limerick
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

In the ever-evolving tactical kaleidoscope that is this Clare hurling team, nothing is fixed.

The role of corner-forward Conor McGrath is a case in point. For much of this season, he has played quite an orthodox role as his fellow corner-forward Podge Collins goes roaming to great effect.

But, in the drawn All-Ireland final, it was noticeable how much McGrath moved away from his corner picking up much of his possession around the half-forward line and putting Cork on the back foot as much as possible.

"As the game develops you end up in all sorts of positions. The way we play, you're not too bothered where you end up. In the modern game, forwards are being asked to do more tackling, work harder," he reflected.

The strategy worked to an extent. McGrath still chipped in with two points to add to the 2-7 he has already bagged this season, but he registered three more wides and that's an area of his game he is keen to improve on.

"After every match you'd look back to see what you did badly, what you did well. I thought I did alright. I had four or five shots at goal and got two points.

"Obviously, you'd like to cut out the wides the next day, but I wouldn't be too worried about it. You're going to have wides at various stages of the year, just try to cut them out the next day."

McGrath disputes the suggestion that Clare didn't create any clear-cut goal chances the last day, pointing to Darach Honan's and Collins' shots in either half which Anthony Nash blocked.

Both those opportunities, however, came off kind breaks that fell their way.

"I suppose it was disappointing alright not to get through, create an overlap to get through on goal, but I don't think we have a problem creating goal chances.

"A bit of luck, taking the right decision, try to create an overlap to get in and have a shot at him."

The majority of Clare's eight goals this season have come from substitutes, Shane O'Donnell (three) and Cathal McInerney (two), but McGrah has chipped in with two himself.

He has no issue with the prospect of playing Saturday's replay under lights.

"I don't think that will make much difference. We played Cork earlier in the league in Páirc Uí Rinn under lights, we played an U-21 All-Ireland final last year against Kilkenny under lights. People say if the lights are switched on during the game it can make a difference, but you don't even notice it happening."

McGrath underwent hip surgery late last year and missed much of the league campaign, but he has been one of Clare's more consistent attackers over the course of the summer. The break, he reckoned, did him some good.

"It was wear and tear over the years. It wasn't too serious, I could have played on for another year, but it was nice to get it sorted. I missed most of the league, but it was great to have it done.

"It was hindering me throughout last year a small bit, the best thing to do was get it sorted. I'm 100pc at the moment.

"With the amount of training and the intensity of training nowadays, people are going to pick up small injuries. Nothing too serious, just a couple of months out in many cases and that doesn't do a player any harm."

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