*Clare manager, Mark Fitzgerald. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

A BIG LIFT in performance is needed and a reduction in the amount of mistakes from Clare if they’re to upset Down in Newry on Sunday, Banner boss Mark Fitzgerald has maintained.

Clare recorded their fourth win in a row when beating Antrim by three points on Saturday, the result means they must prevail over Down to secure promotion back to Division 2 at the first attempt.

Fitzgerald was not pleased in the slightest by Clare’s display. “It is not acceptable at this level, I keep saying the same things at this stage that I’m getting annoyed with it, basic errors all over the place”.

He continued, “The mistakes we’re making sixteen year olds don’t make them at times. We weren’t under any major pressure, it was 0-15 0-12, we were ten points better than what we showed on the scoreboard, it seems to be contagious, we’re getting away with it at the moment but we’ve a tough task ahead of us next weekend in Down”.

Better quality opposition such as Down will exploit Clare for these mistakes and not putting teams to bed, the Tralee native insisted. “We have to try address it and fix it as best we can, it is not from the lack of trying, it is one of those days, it was poor all round. We played some good passages of play in the first half, at half-time we had twelve turnovers and I’d say we had double it in the second half, it was not great really”.

Fitzgerald stated, “You’d love to be able to pinpoint something and say we need to be able to go and fix it. How many times did we give the ball away with a silly pass in the final third under no pressure whatsoever. I wouldn’t be too harsh on the lads because they’ve been brilliant all year, they’ve been very good, we were where we wanted to be and if you told me that at the start of the year I’d bite your hand off for it. Our standards have grown as we’ve gone along and I think that is reflective of my mood at the moment”.

To still be in with a shot of promotion heading into the final round is a position Clare are happy to be in and was an aim of theirs before a ball was kicked in the league. “We knew that in a way, all we wanted to do was take it into the last day, overall it has been a good league campaign but you wouldn’t be happy with the performance there, it wasn’t for a lack of trying but up in Offaly we just weren’t trying until the very end and we got our kick going but it’s just not good enough”.

“We’re in a right good place but if we perform like that next week we’ll get absolutely torn alive,” he concluded.

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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.

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