As Clare put the final plans in place for the opening round of the Munster minor hurling championship, manager Brian O’Connell and his backroom team will be able to select from a full strength squad.

“Thankfuly there are no injury worries at this time and we have a full squad available for our trip to Thurles to play Tipperary on Tuesday evening”, the Wolfe Tones clubman and former Clare senior captain told the Clare Echo.

O’Connell’s backroom team includes two ex Clare senior managers in the guise of Cyril Lyons (Ruan) and Donal Moloney (Scariff). Fintan Leamy (Clooney/Quin), Liam O’Reilly (Banner), Damian O’Halloran (Inagh-Kilnamona), goalkeeper coach Keith Hogan (Clooney/Quin) and Cork native Hugh O’Neill (S&C) complete the management.

Clooney/Quin’s John Cahill is the team captain and he is in line for a position in the backline along with Fionnan Treacy (Éire Óg), Rian McNamara (Cratloe), Sean McMahon (Smith O’Briens) and James Hegarty (Inagh-Kilnamona).

Mark Sheedy (Sixmilebridge) and Oisin O’Rourke (Wolfe Tones) are the goalkeepers in the squad.

Competing for places at midfield are Diarmuid Stritch (Clonlara) Pierce O’Shea (Ruan), Dylan Keane-Hayes(Kilmaley) and Tom Curran (Doora/Barefield) while challenging for places in the forward line are Cian Neylon (Kilmaley), Oisin Whelan (Clarecastle), Frankie Lyons (Ruan), Michael Collins (Clonlara) and Dannan Fox (Clooney-Quin).

Clare and Tipperary faced off last year at U16 when both squads had over forty members. “We had people in Dungarvan on Tuesday night watching their game with Waterford which Tipperary won by two points,” the minor manager outlined.

In preparation for this campaign, Clare played challenge games against Galway (twice), Kilkenny Laois and Wexford. Dannan Fox was part of the St. Josephs, Tulla Harty cup squad while three of the minor panel, Diarmuid Stritch, Sean McMahon and Rian McNamara featured with Ard Scoil Ris when they won the All-Ireland colleges title (Croke cup) in Croke Park.

“The panel includes a lot of the lads that featured in the Dean Ryan cup final between Ard Scoil Ris and St. Flannans while we also have players from Rice College who competed in this age group at B in the Munster colleges schedule”, explained the Wolfe Tones clubman.

O’Connell is happy that the management team “have a good knowledge of the group. We have had a lot of time working together both at management level and with this squad as they came in at under 15 level. At the outset Covid got in the way but we did a lot of work through Zoom. Through the development squad system we would have seen 60 to 70 players in that time”.

The Clare boss pointed out that “this year for the first time, there will be a Celtic Challenge for under 17 players and it is running in conjunction with the minor championship. It starts this week and the players who won’t make our match day squad of twenty four will play in this. They will all continue to benefit from the strength and conditioning programme”.

For now Brian and his management team are focussing on Tuesday’s clash with Tipperary. “Tipperary will always be strong at this level. We have trained regularly since the beginning of the year, conscious all the time of the face that most of the players have had schools competitions also. We tried to balance things so that we didn’t overdo the programme for the players”.

Win or lose on Tuesday, Clare will be back in action a week later when they will entertain Waterford in Sixmilebridge. The team which tops this group will go into the semi-final while the second placed team will play the team which finishes third in the other group (Cork, Limerick and Kerry) with the third placed team in Clare’s group playing the team which finishes second in the other group all of which means that the teams are guaranteed a minimum of three games.

Clare:
1: Mark Sheedy (Sixmilebridge)

2: Eoghan Gunning (Broadford)
3: Fionan Treacy (Éire Óg)
4: John Cahill (Clooney/Quin)

5: Rian McNamara (Cratloe)
6: James Hegarty (Inagh-Kilnamona)
7: Fiachra O’Braoin (Sixmilebridge)

8: Piaras Ó Sé (Ruan)
9: Diarmuid Stritch (Clonlara)

10: Michael Collins (Clonlara)
11: Jack O’Neill (Clooney/Quin)
12: Frankie Lyons (Ruan)

13: Dannan Fox (Clooney/Quin)
14: Oisín Whelan (Clarecastle)
15: Cian Neylon (Kilmaley).

Subs:
16: Oisin O’Rourke (Wolfe Tones Na Sionna)
17: Sean McMahon (Smith O’Briens)
18: Matthew O’Halloran (Sixmilebridge)
19: Dylan Keane (Kilmaley)
20: Eoin O’Regan (Éire Óg)
21: James Organ (Corofin)
22: Sam Scanlon (Clooney/Quin)
23: Fred Hegarty (Inagh/Kilnamona)
24: Fionn Hayes (Sixmilebridge).

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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