*Shane O’Donnell in action for Clare versus Kilkenny. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Clare had no problem overcoming futile resistance from Dublin to give us a crack at Kilkenny in an All-Ireland semi final this weekend. The players and management alike will be on a mission to atone for last year’s loss in a game where we failed to show up on the day.

I travelled to Dublin last year in full confidence of a Clare win. However, we didn’t turn up on the day and we left Dublin with our tails between our legs. This Sunday is a great opportunity for the players to put that right and show what they’re capable of on the biggest stage.

Tony Kelly mentioned in his interview after the Dublin game that there were lessons learned from last year, and all Clare fans will certainly be hoping that that is the case. It was evident that we were lacking in energy in both the quarter final and semi final last year but Clare played with plenty of vigour against Dublin and racked up a huge score.

Signs from the quarter final were good. In contrast to last year at this stage, the lads looked full of energy. While scoring efficiency was not high in the opening twenty minutes, it was from there on out and Clare racked up a huge score. Granted, they weren’t playing against much, but Clare showed hunger for the battle, were full of running and worked hard for each other on the pitch.

Tony Kelly, was excellent throughout and was ruthless with his finishing. There was massive attention put on Tony in last year’s All-Ireland semi final and huge credit was given to Mikey Butler who was marking him on the day. I think there will be a score to settle in Tony’s mind and I’ve yet to see someone keeping him quiet two days in a row. Clare will need to see the best of him to progress to the final.

Injuries to John Conlon dominated the pre-match build up last year, and unfortunately, he has been in the wars again this year. John works incredibly hard to make sure his body is in peak physical condition, and everyone will be hoping he makes a full recovery from the knock he got in the quarter final. John was a big loss to the team last year and he will be needed this time around. John has huge experience and in big games with big crowds in Croke Park, that experience and leadership is invaluable.

The spine of our defence has been affected with injury as Conor Cleary also is recovering from his knock. Both John and Conor are hugely physical players and big leaders in the teams. Against a tall, strong and athletic Kilkenny attack, both Conor and John would go a long way toward shoring up our defence. While there are some question marks over those two towering defenders’ fitness, it seems the news on David McInerney and Shane O’Donnell is more straightforward with both expected to start.

Kilkenny were able to keep their defence compact and create huge space in the Clare defence last year. While Clare have played a fearless gameplan in Munster, particularly against Limerick by pushing right up on the half-forwards, they should attempt to remain more compact this weekend. The Kilkenny wing forwards, do not dictate the play as well as Gearoid Hegarty and Tom Morrissey do for Limerick, and their short passing and build up play is not as strong either.

As a result, Clare should look to keep very little space in front of the Kilkenny full forward line and hope that pressure from our midfielders and half forward line will be enough to break down Kilkenny when they attempt to build play from the back. If we afford Eoin Cody the same space in front of goal which Aaron Gillane got, it could be curtains for Clare. Kilkenny are ruthless in front of goal and Clare have looked a little vulnerable at the back, particularly since Cleary’s absence. Limiting their space here and forcing shots from further out the field should be the absolute priority. While Kilkenny have an extremely dangerous inside line, if we don’t allow goals, I don’t think they will be good enough to out-point us on the day.

Clare have a better team currently than Kilkenny. While we got it wrong last year, I think we have learned the lesson for this year’s campaign. Clare are closer to their peak now than they were in last year’s fixture. Our bench has had a big impact in recent games and we have options, particularly in attack. The question remains around the fitness of some key players but if they are okay, I think Clare supporters will be coming back down the M7 on Sunday looking forward to an All-Ireland Final.

Related News

john mountaine violet anne wynne 1
Mountaine blames 'no filter' TD partner "who has upset a lot of people" as reason he hasn't been able to get a driving test appointment in almost four years
shannon airport terminal 1
8% growth in passenger numbers at Shannon Airport for first half of 2024
ennis courthouse tent 24-02-21 4
Jail sentence for man who repeatedly stabbed mother's beloved dog
homecoming john conlon 1
Thousands turn out to welcome home Clare's hurling heroes
Latest News
shannon airport terminal 1
8% growth in passenger numbers at Shannon Airport for first half of 2024
WhatsApp Image 2024-07-21 at 19.39
2013 survivors Conlon, Kelly & McInerney led the way says Clare coach Hassett
ennis courthouse tent 24-02-21 4
Jail sentence for man who repeatedly stabbed mother's beloved dog
homecoming john conlon 1
Thousands turn out to welcome home Clare's hurling heroes
co clare sign
Gardaí ask that Limerick teen be banned from Clare as part of strict bail conditions
Premium
ennis courthouse tent 24-02-21 4
Jail sentence for man who repeatedly stabbed mother's beloved dog
co clare sign
Gardaí ask that Limerick teen be banned from Clare as part of strict bail conditions
WhatsApp Image 2024-07-21 at 19.40
'Maybe it was one of the greatest All-Irelands but all that matters is the Liam MacCarthy is coming to Clare' - Bugler
WhatsApp Image 2024-07-21 at 18.54
Character comes to the fore as Clare are crowned All-Ireland champions
ennis courthouse tent 24-02-21 3
Judge imposes suspended prison term on Mullagh 'family man' for child porn offences

Subscribe for just €3 per month

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.

Subscribe for just €3 per month

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.

Scroll to Top