*Dylan O’Brien is bowled over. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
A bigger emphasis is needed on strength and conditioning is needed for Clare football teams to bridge the gap with Kerry, the manager of the minor footballers has said.
On December 22nd, Kerry secured an eighth Munster MFC title in succession with a ten point win over Clare. It was the third Munster final meeting between the sides in the past four years, the margin previously being 24 points (2017) and 20 points (2018) in favour of the Kingdom.
Clare boss, Dermot Coughlan felt the gulf between the counties is most apparent with regard to strength and conditioning. “I wouldn’t be worried about our football, I think we can correct that. I think we need to be on a strength and conditioning programme from about thirteen years of age, I’d love to see the programme the Kerry lads were on since they were thirteen. I would say they were on a proper strength and conditioning programme from thirteen to seventeen,” he told The Clare Echo.
Responsibility for its implementation lies with those in charge of the county development sides, Coughlan believed. “It’s up to every management to put that in place from U13. We’re talking about the same thing of funding and resources and it all comes back to the same issue. We’ll be okay when we get to senior because when these guys get in with the likes of Rob Mulcahy they will be on programmes, I think we will be okay because a lot of lads from that minor team will play senior but at the minute there is a gap with regard conditioning between both counties”.
En route to the decider, Clare clocked up tallies of 1-24 and 4-20 respectively in what were 20 and 19 point victories. The concession of goals at the beginning and end of the opening half, tired bodies and the conditioning were cited by the Kilmurry Ibrickane man when reflecting on the Munster Final loss.
No excuses were voiced by Coughlan as he paid tribute to Munster Council for running the competition. “I’m delighted we got this opportunity and hats off to Munster Council for making it happen, they had a short window of three weeks to run off the championship, it might have been a lot of games in a short period of time but given the year we had you’d take it with open arms”.
Off the matchday panel of 26, twelve different clubs had representatives which was a positive according to the 1992 Munster SFC winner. “The effort given from the clubs from everywhere I couldn’t fault it, we had 32 lads turning up to training and the lads enjoyed it. I think we went to the max with this team and met the better team on the night and there is no question that Kerry were the better team, how we can get up there is the thing. It would have been a great boost for us to win with the work going in with Clare teams but I just felt their physical dominance was the difference”.