*Matthew O’Halloran in action for Clare. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

THE SONS of three members of Clare’s All-Ireland winning teams from 1995 and 1997 are following in their father’s footsteps and are set to wear the saffron and blue for the county minor hurlers.

Clare take on Tipperary in the Munster minor championship opening game on Tuesday evening in Shannon at 7p.m.

Matthew O’Halloran (Sixmilebridge), Mark O’Connor (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield) and Fred Hegarty (Inagh/Kilnamona) are set to emulate their fathers, Michael, Jamesie and Fergal and, hopefully, steer Clare to victory over the Premier outfit, the defending All-Ireland champions.

The counties met in the Munster final last year when a penalty shootout was required to separate the sides, Tipperary winning on a 3-0 scoreline. They went on to break Offaly hearts in the All-Ireland final when they struck for an injury time goal to claim the title.

Former Clare senior captain Brian O’Connell from Shannon is the Clare manager again this season and his backroom team includes Donal Moloney (Scariff), Damian O’Halloran (Inagh/Kilnamona), Fintan Leamy (Clooney/Quin) Liam O’Reilly (Banner) Gerard Hickey (Broadford); Hugh O’Neill from Cork on S&C and Thomas Barry from Inagh/Kilnamona on stats.

Brian O’Connell. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

The team manager is happy with this year’s format which is the same as the under 20 hurling. The top team at the end of the round robin series will go through to the final with the second and third placed teams meeting in a semi-final.

“For the most part we have a new bunch this year which is the nature of things at this age group”, explained the manager.

Eight members of last year’s panel are still available and they are Eoin Gunning from Broadford who is this year’s captain, Mark Sheedy from Sixmilebridge, James Hegarty from Inagh/Kilnamona, Matthew O’Halloran, Fred Hegarty, Padraic O’Donovan from Doora/Barefield, Michael Collins from Clonlara and Jamie Moylan from Cratloe.

Last year’s goalkeeper Sheedy is expected to fill that position again this year while Ronan Keane (Killanena), Eoin Carey (Cratloe) and Mark O’Connor (Doora/Barefield) are chasing defensive roles.

Mark Sheedy in goals for Clare. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Elsewhere Matthew O’Halloran, Michael Collins, Fred Hegarty, Mark O’Brien (Cratloe) and Jack Mescall (Inagh-Kilnamona) are in the running for places in the line up.

A decision on the fitness of James Hegarty will be made nearer match time on Tuesday but apart from that, BOC and his backroom team have a fully fit panel from which to select the team to take on Tipperary.

In preparation for this campaign, Clare have had challenge games with Dublin and Offaly while they completed preparations last week with a match against Kilkenny.

“It’s a busy schedule but the lads are really looking forward to the format. Because of the closeness of the fixtures, all members of the panel will be needed as injuriess are likely to be picked up,” the Wolfe Tones clubman said.

Clare’s Munster schedule is as follows; at home to Tipperary on Tuesday next, March 21 in Shannon at 7p.m.; away to Limerick on March 28, away to Waterford on April 11 and at home to Cork on April 18.

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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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