*Ger O’Connell. Photograph: Bryan Keane (INPHO)
Consistency. That elusive final ingredient which has been the ultimate difference between the top three of Cork, Kilkenny and Galway and the rest of the senior camogie counties again boiled to the surface of the post-match debate in Cratloe on Saturday afternoon.
Having secured back-to-back opening National League victories over Offaly and Kilkenny, Clare appeared to have turned a corner of sorts, only to skillfully reverse back around it in a below-par first half display against Waterford that ultimately cost them all the points on offer according to manager Ger O’Connell.
“It’s very disappointing. Just not to perform especially in the first half is even more frustrating than disappointing to be honest because as I’ve said always, the girls have some amount of work done and it just didn’t show in the first half. Particularly being our first game at home, everyone was eager to perform but in that first half, we looked lost and were second best. Waterford looked the more hungrier side so it’s really frustrating”.
Two Waterford goals in as many minutes nearing the end of the opening quarter turned the game on its head as Clare’s two point advantage eventually descended into a seven point deficit by the break. “Both of their goals stemmed from our mistakes. Beth Carton took her goal well but it originated from our own error and you just can’t give a team like that a seven point lead, especially as we were facing into the wind for the second half.
“We were much better in the second half, had a better attitude and got the ball into the full-forward line earlier than we did in the first half. But we had given Waterford too much of a headstart. We were faffing with the ball in the first half around the middle of the field so we simply said at half-time get the ball in early. We have a girl who is 6’3” inside there so why are we messing around with it and getting turned over? I know I’m coming across as frustrated because I am. I mean we had two good wins and we had talked about consistency but for some reason, we just fell flat starting off today. We just need to find that bit more consistency, that’s the bottom line really”.
Indeed, Waterford had no answer to the towering target of Aine O’Loughlin in that second half as she created the goal for Aoife Power and had four shots at the target herself. “Their goalkeeper made a great save from Aine that would have levelled up the game early in the second half and then to have one ruled out as well, it just wasn’t our day. The second half was much better, the attitude and the hurling that I know the girls have came through in the second half but we just left ourselves with too much to do.
“Look, it’s something that the girls need to learn from and us as a management team need to learn from that we just have to start the game as we mean to finish it. We’re not going to change the way we approach the games. We didn’t nothing different today than we did against Kilkenny, that’s the frustrating thing. It’s just a consistency that we need to bring as a group, something hopefully that we can learn from down the line”.