*Conor Cleary. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

MILTOWN Malbay’s Conor Cleary who plays his club hurling with Kilmaley admits that playing in the Munster final has been Clare’s target since the championship got under way.

“We had a very disappointing first day out. It’s great to be back in the final but we have an awful lot of work to do”, Cleary told The Clare Echo in advance of Sunday’s Munster senior hurling final.

Cleary has captained Clare to glory already this year after the county won the Allianz National Hurling League title for the first time since 2016.

Reflecting on their most recent outing, a three point win against Tipperary in Semple Stadium, Thurles, Conor said, “We knew that our game against Tipperary would be as tough as it was. Tipperary are a fine team and they showed that today. For forty minutes of their last two games they put it up to Cork and Limerick., We knew they were going to do that today. We are lucky to come out with the result and we are delighted to be back in the Munster final”

A midfielder with his native St Joseph’s Miltown senior football side, Cleary has been the first choice full-back during Brian Lohan’s five years in charge of the county senior side, a shoulder injury ruled him out the 2023 Munster final against Limerick. “Tipperary are a very good team and they have shown that. They beat us well last year, and we knew they were going to be ready for us today. It’s not so much that we managed the game as Tipperary came with a performance, there was never going to be more than three or four points in it”.

Looking ahead to the Munster final where they will face Limerick in the provincial decider for the third season in succession, Cleary commented, “After losing the first day, we will focus on our own performance. There is an awful lot of improvement needed and we know that. We will be focussing on trying to reach our own targets and improve our performance. We must hit our own targets”.

One of the team’s most experienced players, the Rice College Ennis teacher said “the league has been very good for us this year as a lot of players have got valuable game time. That has stood to us and you saw last week hoe the subs impacted straight away”.

He admitted that they didn’t look beyond the game against Tipperary even though Liam Cahill’s side were already eliminated from the championship. “We were focussed on our game with Tipperary as we knew if we didn’t win we would be out. It’s great to be back in the final but we have an awful lot of work to do”.

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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.

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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