*Ennistymon’s Liam Cotter. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

ENNISTYMON have shown character in their Clare SFC campaign to date but their manager is adamant a major improvement is needed in terms of their football.

Contesting a relegation play-off was on the cards for the North Clare sides in the second half of their final round clash with Doonbeg on Sunday. Instead, they ended up topping Group 3 and emerging as one of the seeded sides for the quarter-finals.

To overcome the stern challenge of Doonbeg by two points was very satisfactory for Ennistymon manager, Mark Shanahan. “I just feel, when you just get down to the basics if you beat Doonbeg in a championship match it’s a good day because they have great history, tradition and great men over them which means they will turn up and that was proven today, they came at us with everything, our first half performance was flat but we showed tremendous heart, fitness and resilience in spades in the second half, that period where we lost a man for ten minutes in the second half and that could have been the ten minutes that won us the game, the second half was full of heart”.

Despite Clare corner back Cillian Rouine receiving a black card, the numerical disadvantage for ten minutes was ironically the spell where Ennistymon won the game as they outscored their opponents 1-02 0-00.

Losing a player like Rouine could have totally disjointed the side in the past but Shanahan lauded the grit displayed in this period. “I know now that this group won’t will, they will not wilt, I’m around football long enough to know what’s what in that regard and this group won’t wilt, they have the resilience, they have the heart and the character but our football is going to have to improve dramatically if we’re going to put a dent in the championship”.

Key to the win was also David Fitzgerald’s move to the middle third at half-time and the introduction of Kevin Hehir. “We made a few positional changes and we really said we wanted to go at them, we were a bit conservative in the first half but we were flat, every player said in the dressing room he had to up his game, the team had to up their game and empty ourselves completely. That heart, resilience and character with the positional switches won us through against a formidable Doonbeg team”.

Mark was hopeful their jousts with Doonbeg, Kilmurry Ibrickane and Clondegad would stand to them when it came to the knockout stages. “I think the three games were ferocious battles, because the two other games were so physically demanding it could have had a fear bearing on today, I think we were battle-hardened, it was tit for tat coming at the end but we had a great second half. Overall we’re going to have to improve”.

A preference for a quarter-final opponent was not disclosed by Shanahan who is now in his third term as manager of Ennistymon. “It’s not something we discuss, it’s all about getting our own house in order, you mentioned years past and we have too much on our own plate. We feel we can put it up to anybody and we want to get that consistency going, if the group has shown anything it’s that we’re building towards that but we have a lot to do, everyone is willing to put their shoulder to the wheel and that’s the most important thing”.

On the injury front, Sean Rouine returned to action having missed the opening two rounds, corner back Dara Conneally is unlikely to feature in this year’s campaign while ex captain Sean O’Driscoll could line out in the last eight tie. “I’d say Dara is under a lot of pressure to play this year I would think, we’ve a month so Sean could have a chance but Dara is very unlikely,” Shanahan said.

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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.

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