*Colm Collins. Photograph: Sportsfile
Unearthing new talent and exposing young players to senior inter-county standards is the aim of the Clare footballers in the 2020 McGrath Cup.
Sunday marked the start of a fresh campaign for Colm Collins’ charges as they were two points adrift of neighbours Limerick. Without the services of Gary Brennan, Jamie Malone, Aaron Fitzgerald and Sean O’Donoghue, all vital players in their qualifier run and survival in Division 2 last year, management have no choice but to experiment and add something different to their lineup.
As such, Joseph McGann, Cillian Rouine, Ciarán Morrissey and Ciarán Downes all made their first starts for the seniors in Rathkeale with Aidan Davidson and Emmet McMahon also introduced off the bench.
Ciarán Russell returned to the team after a year’s hiatus as did Martin O’Leary and Darren O’Neill who had longer breaks away from the county set-up. David Egan, Sean Rouine and Michael Tubridy were others to get a call-up for Sunday’s panel while Barry Harnett is another to rejoin the squad.
Speaking after the 0-14 2-06 loss, Collins advised “We’ll have a different fifteen against Waterford and see how that goes”. He felt Limerick were the sharper side on the day but admitted their main aim was to get a look at “the new fellas”.
Over the seventy minutes, Clare had ten wides with Monaleen’s Donal O’Sullivan pulling off two excellent saves to deny Keelan Sexton and Eoin Cleary late goals. “Conditions were difficult for shooting, it wasn’t really a day for shooting from distance because the breeze was going across the pitch,” the Cratloe clubman observed of their missed chances. He confirmed that “a tight hamstring” was the reason David Tubridy was omitted from the starting fifteen shortly before throw-in.
“What we’re looking for from the McGrath Cup is to try play and see where we’re going, see what we have and that’s it, we’ll be doing the same thing against Waterford. You can’t beat competitive inter-county games where you have a proper referee, linesmen and umpires which you may not have in challenge games”.