Clare minor football manager Dermot Coughlan is “delighted to have a window for the next two weeks for this championship to go ahead”.
Speaking ahead of Clare’s Provincial quarter final clash with Tipperary at Semple Stadium in Thurles on Saturday evening (throw in 5p.m.), the Kilmurry Ibrickane clubman praised the GAA for availing of this opportunity to play the championship.
“We were due to play earlier and we were disappointed when the fixtures were pulled at three days notice. When that happened it didn’t look like there would be an opportunity to play but, thankfully, we have a fixture now”, the Clare boss told The Clare Echo this week.
Asked if it has been difficult to prepare for this competition he said “the club teams were in action during the time that the inter county minor and under 20 fixtures were cancelled and a number of our panel were involved. We were working online with the others and they were reporting back to us with their S&C programmes. Individually we were doing a lot but now we have just five sessions with the full squad to pull things together for Saturday”.
As they put their final preparations in place, there are injury concerns about two of the team’s key players, team captain Brendan Rouine and vice captain, Cillian McGroary but hopes are high that both will be ready to line out. Rouine is likely to be at midfield with McGroary in the attack. Both are survivors from last year’s campaign.
The defence is expected to include Fionn Kelleher from St Josephs Doora/Barefield and Brian McNamara from Cooraclare with Lissycasey’s Thomas Collins expected to fill the goalkeeping role, he was the substitute goalkeeper last year. Diarmuid Fahy of Ennistymon and Craig Riordan from Wolfe Tones are expected to be in the forward line
Saturday evening’s winners will be out again next Wednesday in the provincial semi-final against the winners of the Waterford v Limerick quarter final but Coughlan isn’t looking at that fixture. “Our total focus is on Saturday and our game in Thurles. It’s knockout football and Tipperary are never poor at this level. Their seniors may have lost out to Mayo on Sunday but they had a great provincial campaign which ended with the Munster title and a rising tide lifts all boats so we will have to be ready”.
“Around this time last year we played in the Manning Cup, a competition for under 16 teams. They travelled to Cooraclare and beat us by a few points so we know that they will present a big challenge. Look, we are all in the same boat because of COVID-19, both of us have faced the same difficulties with preparation”, Coughlan added.
Dermot is joined in the backroom by Dermot Gavin (Clondegad), Barry McGroary (Corofin), Mike Neylon (Éire Óg), Sean Haugh (O’Currys), T. J. Carey (Liscannor), Peter O’Dwyer (Kilmurry-Ibrickane) who is the goalkeeping coach and video analyst Dermot Mahony (Kilrush).