*Michael Collins and Cian Neylon win a turnover for Clare. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
LOSING A MUNSTER final on penalties is “cruel”, Clare minor hurling manager Brian O’Connell reflected while voicing his belief that the U17 side will undoubtedly learn from the experience.
Eighty minutes of hurling could find a winner in Wednesday’s final the scoreline a tie on 1-22 0-25 after extra time. Penalties saw Tipperary claim their forty first title, the shootout ending 3-0 in their favour.
“It has to finish someway, I suppose, it’s cruel on the lads that had to take them, it’s such a high-pressure situation and after exerting so much energy in the game and then extra time, it’s a tough ask but we are so so proud of the lads, it’s unbelievable”, O’Connell said moments after the drama unfolded.
He stated, “We got involved really to hear the roar we heard before full time and again in extra time. That’s what we got involved in hurling for, to hear that Clare roar again and it was there massively tonight and I am really proud of the lads”.
Wolfe Tones clubman BOC was adamant the youngsters would learn from their experience. “The lads will learn from this. It’s all about development and we are still in the championship and in two week we will be in a round robin with Galway and the losers of the Leinster final. We will lick our wounds for a couple of days, Obviously we need to take a rest and take stock and get ready to go again”.
When asked by The Clare Echo if an assessment is needed on deciding matches via penalties, O’Connell responded, “It’s easy to say yes when you are on the losing side, when you are on the winning side it’s great. If you were watching from the stand or at home watching on TV, its massive entertainment. We play sport, no matter what sport it is, to entertain and to enjoy and if people got enjoyment out of that then that’s great. It is a cruel way to lose, I am not going to make excuses for it but we live to fight another day”.
Tipperary’s reduction to fourteen players following captain Sam O’Farrell’s dismissal for a second bookable offence opened an opportunity for Clare to take control but instead the opposite occurred. O’Connell acknowledged that “it can happen” for the side losing a man to exert their dominance. “We were a couple of points up at the time and we probably sat a little bit deeper and our shape went out the window, that happens. It’s hard to get messages on in these games, they are gone so strict with the rules, it’s really hard to get a message onto the field and that’s a bit of a disadvantage, look it is what it is”.
Now based in Oranmore, the Shannon native is firmly of the view Clare hurling is in a strong position. “Today Scariff Community College won a Munster under 15 C competition, Rice college won u-15 B competition. There are hurlers there and there were hurlers there last year. I said it earlier on, I don’t understand comparing last year to this year, it doesn’t make sense to me. The management team and all the players involved last year worked just as hard as we have. If they had the luxury that we have of playing three games, I guarantee they would have turned it around within a week. I don’t see how the comparison is being made, there are plenty of hurlers in Clare”.