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*Brian O’Connell. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

CONFIDENCE is returning to the ranks of the Clare minor hurlers.

Minor hurling manager, Brian O’Connell was glad Clare ended a losing streak of two games to book their place in the All-Ireland MHC semi-final when they proved too strong for a spirited Laois on Saturday afternoon. That semi-final has been fixed for next Friday (June 17th) at FBD Semple Stadium.

It was clear to see the “big improvement” in their display from their sixteen point loss to Galway. “I could see this morning and during the week that there was more energy there. There was plenty rest after the Galway game as they were tired both mentally and physically. They were in good form this morning”.

O’Connell added, “In the second half we were playing into a fairly strong breeze and we had to dig deep. Fair play to Laois, we knew that they weren’t going to lie down. They put it up to us in the second half but we dug deep to see it out”.

He was pleased with how his defence dealt with constant pressure from the Laois attack. “We have been fairly solid all year, the lads are really good to read the game and with their tackling and doing all the basics really well. They were rock solid again today and needed to be especially in the last quarter. We could have been more ahead in that final period but their goalkeeper made three one and one saves”.

This week’s focus has been on staying fresh, the Shannon man outlined. “We will freshen up again this week. We have been on the road for a while, fairly busy over the last few months. Offaly beat Laois in the Leinster final and we will be primed and ready to go when we meet”.

“Having had eight championship games so far is unbelievable, such young lads have experienced so many varieties of things this year, ups and downs. Some lads will be 22 or 23 before they have the experience these lads have had. It would be great to beat Offaly in the semi-final”.

Picking up a win was very important, BOC stressed. “It’s brilliant for the confidence to have won today. Winning becomes a habit and brings confidence back into the squad. Losing the Munster final registered as a loss, if we had lost three in a row it would have been very disappointing but I am glad to have got a win today”.

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