*Crusheen’s Ross Hayes. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
CRUSHEEN’S “high standards” on and off the field will need to be applied this weekend as they aspire to collect their first win of the Clare SHC while Inagh/Kilnamona still have question marks on the fitness of Conner Hegarty and Kevin Hehir.
Kevin Sheehan’s side face off with Wolfe Tones on Saturday evening (18:30) in Dr Daly Park, Tulla. Crusheen fell short against Inagh/Kilnamona in the opening round while Wolfe Tones produced a strong second half to overcome Smith O’Briens.
Speaking to The Clare Echo, the 2018 Clare SHC winning manager stressed the importance of their second round clash. “We are on a rebuild but, at the same time, we hold standards high in the management and in the dressing room. We are not making excuses as that is not the way to go but we had five very young backs and they held their own”.
He was confident their six point loss would stand to them. “I am a bit disappointed with three or four wides we had in the first half. We have something to work on as opposed to the first round last year when we were comprehensively beaten. The next day now is important. Inagh/Kilnamona are an incredibly good side who know what they are about. It’s for us to get up to that level and that game today will do us no harm”.
Inagh/Kilnamona’s Eugene Cullinan outlined, “Last year we just took it one game at a time and that is going to be our mantra this year, one game at a time. Crusheen are a formidable outfit and while there was a bit of a gap there, it was not a huge amount. We are pleased to have two points in the bag. The young lads have given the thing a bounce and any young lad that can stand up to Crusheen is a good young lad and we are delighted”.
It will be closer to matchday until a decision is reached on the fitness of Kevin Hehir and Conner Hegarty. Hehir togged with the Ennistymon senior footballers but played no part. “Smith O’Briens will be as tough at this one, they are just up from intermediate and they are a solid side. We are looking forward to that. Kevin Hehir and Conner Hegarty are close to getting back but they might not make it in two weeks time”.
Meanwhile, Kilmaley will aim to have their second successive win. Conor Clancy is in his second year as manager, of their opening round win against Éire Óg he lamented their final quarter finish but praised how they started. “Everybody had tipped Éire Óg to win which surprised me after the way we performed in the Clare Cup”.
Having watched Clooney/Quin against Scariff, he was adamant, “we will have to raise our level of performance again”. They have welcomed Cathal Darcy back to the fold and hope to have Aaron Moloney back in action in the coming weeks with Tom O’Rourke and Aidan Griffey set to return from America in time for the final round.
Éire Óg chairman, Jim Cooney was of the view their first round defeat would aid them as they prepare to face Scariff in O’Garney Park on Sunday (16:30). “The game will stand to us. There are two more games left in our group and we will need an improvement to come out of the group. It’s very difficult to play a league with so many players missing, you can’t put a strategy together, you can’t put a campaign together and even now in championship time”.
With their dual commitments, he said it was “very difficult” with players having to swap codes each week.