*Clare captain, Gary Brennan. Photograph: Martin Connolly
Kerry’s dominant grip on the Munster senior football championship continued in Ennis on Saturday evening as their six point win secured a provincial final with Cork and sent Clare to the qualifiers.
Success may have eluded Clare in the semi-final but their second half showing in particular marked an improvement on their victory over Waterford three weeks ago. In order to try upset Kerry, they opted to pump high long ball into Darragh Bohannon of Shannon Gaels more known as a midfielder operating as a full-forward. Gary Brennan felt the lack of support and quality of ball to Bohannon scuppered any chances of this plan making dividends.
“I think we were trying things, we tried something in particular in the first half and it didn’t come off, we probably over used it, we took a chance saying we were going to have a go but our execution of it wasn’t great, our support for Darragh inside wasn’t great, those turnovers were hurting us but the second half was much improved”.
Brennan was not happy with the use of the phrase ‘arm’s length’ at how Clare’s second half brought them closer to their opponents. “We’d be known for running at teams, we’re usually quite strong at it, we thought we might catch them on the hop at different stages but we took a chance and it didn’t work, we readjusted a bit better in the second half”.
“Going till the end is the minimum requirement for us, you don’t at any stage throw the towel in, we spoke at half-time about how we could turn it around, we don’t deal in the business of moral victories so we’re not going to be taking any glory from that but it was better at least”.
He observed that some players wore studded boots for the first time since the end of the National Football League but was adamant the greasy conditions were as problematic for both teams in dealing with spilt possession.
As Clare’s involvement in the Munster SFC came to an end, it did so in the same week Gary and his St Flannan’s staff colleague get their summer holidays. The Clare captain is determined they will have a long summer on the field. “The Munster championship is over now and the All-Ireland has started, that was the message in our huddle. We’re not going to sit back and feel sorry for ourselves, we’ll take a break tonight and get back to it during the week and look forward to the All-Ireland championship and try get the very best out of ourselves”.
He added, “The challenge is no matter who we draw or where we’re playing once we’re wearing that jersey you go out and do the very best you can, the first half we didn’t do that, the second was much better so it’s about trying to bring that level of consistent performance in the future”.