*Outnumbered but Shane O’Donnell still powers past the Clarecastle defence. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
ÉIRE ÓG are no longer at their ‘most vulnerable’ and will be quietly confident that their chances of success in the Clare senior hurling championship will only intensify as they reach the knockout stages.
An opening round defeat to Feakle left the Townies needing wins in subsequent ties with Broadford and Clarecastle which they duly did.
This spot put last year’s finalists under a spot of pressure but manager Matt Shannon was glad to be wiping his brow and looking ahead to the last eight, once again. “We’re happy to be looking forward to a quarter-final again. I thought we’d a very good start and we also finished the first half well. The middle third of the game was frustrating to watch but it does leave us with lots to work on going into the next round in a couple of weeks time”.
Speaking to The Clare Echo following their eleven point victory over Clarecastle, the Corofin native added, “The goal is to get out of your group and there has been a bit of twist in things in other groups but thank God we’re still there. We’ll need the four weeks to get the bodies right but it’s not a full break either as there’s football again next week and the next round two weeks later so we’ve only really a week in-between to get a couple of sessions in with the whole squad. We can only do our best and get the bodies right in order to stay in the championship as long as we can”.
Shannon was confident that they find themselves in a much better position now as they prepare for the knockout stages, a phase of the competition that they thoroughly enjoy. “Earlier in the group, we were probably at our most vulnerable as we were only getting bodies back into action after inter county etc and have to start straight away. The longer you stay in therefore, the more you can improve so while we improved again this evening, there’s lots to still work on as there was a lot of that second half that we wouldn’t be happy with. It gives us plenty of food for thought ahead of our next game.”