*Tomás Ó Sé, 

FIVE-TIME All Star Tomás Ó Sé has said Kerry will not underestimate the challenge of Clare for this weekend’s Munster final.

For the second year in a row, Clare and Kerry will do battle in the Munster senior football final.

Criticism shipped in the wake of their three point semi-final win over Cork is likely to result in a strong reaction from Kerry this weekend, Ó Sé predicted. “I think Kerry will win it, Kerry played Cork, going on recent form Kerry beat a Cork team who we really didn’t know what performance would come from them, a lot of people have been giving out about Kerry, people are expecting Kerry to wallop Cork every year but sometimes on days like that when expectation doesn’t meet reality it can lead to harsher and unnecessary criticism”.

This is likely to result in a sharp response against Clare. “Clare have played Kerry in recent times, it hasn’t worked out well for them in Killarney and the Gaelic Grounds. They’ve had a big clear-out and it is a huge ask to pin down a forward line like what Kerry have. Kerry will in some quarters feel they are being questioned and will up it another level and I think Clare will struggle as a result”.

Having the game in Ennis will add extra motivation for Clare, the nine-time Munster winner noted. “In recent years Clare have been the second best team in Munster so Kerry will certainly give them due diligence”.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Tomás outlined that Cusack Park hosting the game “does have a difference. Ennis is a different field, it’s a tighter pitch, the dimensions of Ennis it is as big as any field in the country but historically Kerry teams would have thought it was smaller because of the surroundings but when I was involved with Offaly we played in Ennis and the dimensions are the same and it is a big pitch, the surface is always good, I don’t think Kerry will suffer as a result with Ennis being a big pitch and all hurling pitches have a good surface”.

He added, “West Clare in particular is a stronghold of football and I think there will be a huge crowd for a historic occasion going with hope. Kerry will name the strongest team that they can and they know potentially who they will be playing in the All-Ireland series but they won’t be taking their eye off the ball but a match like this you always have to approach it with caution. If you are not right, Clare will expose it but I wonder if they can expose it for the full hour, with a forward line of David Clifford, Seanie O’Shea and Paudie Clifford they will find it difficult”.

Footballer of the Year in 2009, Tomás expects Clare will try play a defensive game and aim to catch Kerry on the counter attack but questioned where Clare’s scores will come from. He admitted, “I’d be lying and trying to cod people though if I said I expected anything other than a Kerry win”.

Currently manager of the Kerry U20s, Tomás said, “Kerry will never show disrespect and they will prepare properly for this game, they will do their due diligence on all Clare players and the dangers they pose like any other game, it is championship, unfairly they are under pressure because of Cork game, people questioning that it wasn’t a great performance and normally they react to this criticism. Kerry were expected to beat Cork but it wasn’t as convincing as they thought it would be”.

Ó Sé admitted he has been “very impressed” with Clare and their approach this season. “I don’t think anybody expected them to do as well as they did in the National Football League”. He continued, “It was a huge year for them and they’ve done very well, especially with Colm Collins and amount of players leaving, the football public in Clare didn’t have as high expectations but the hunger and organisation they have, they had an outstanding league season and were within a game of getting promoted back to Division 2 and to get to Munster final what else can you ask for. They have nothing to lose, they are playing in their own backyard, I know they are proud of playing at home, they will go out to win the game but it is a fierce tough ask to beat a Kerry team who contested the All-Ireland final last year”.

His experience with the U20s has Ó Sé aware “there’s a lot of young lads” coming through the ranks in Clare. “I’ve seen a lot underage, they should have beaten the Kerry U20s last year and I know there’s a lot knocking on the door”.

Jason Foley will be “a huge loss” if he is missing for Kerry, Tomás said. “Kerry are at their best when playing front football and moving the ball quickly, getting the ball into the forwards where they can hurt you”. At times in the Cork semi-final, Kerry were exposed defensively and Clare will be aware of this, he flagged.

Having both Mark Fitzgerald and James Costello in the Clare corner is a plus given their knowledge on the Kerry players, he acknowledged. “It would of course be a help but Dublin are the most televised team in the country, you know exactly what they will do and their players, Kerry are similar, you know what fellas will be in positions, the lads would have to give you an edge and I’ve no doubt but I’ve no doubt they will be trying to lay it out and give Clare the best chance of beating Kerry, they are not going in to make the numbers”.

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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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