*Cian O’Dea. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
CIAN O’DEA is to miss Clare’s potentially season defining Munster senior football quarter-final against Cork.
Having suffered relegation to Division 3 of the Allianz National Football League, Clare’s footballers need to advance to the Munster Final if they are to compete in this year’s All-Ireland senior football championship, failure to do so will see them line out in the Tailteann Cup.
Clare welcome Cork to Cusack Park on April 9th with the winner setting up a Munster semi-final clash with Limerick a fortnight later. The Leesiders enjoyed a 3-10 1-08 when the counties met in round five of the National Football League on March 5th which was also the day when O’Dea was forced off with injury.
On that occasion, O’Dea tore ligaments in the back of his knee which led to him being aided off the field by team doctor, Connolly native Dr Claire McMahon and Ennis based neuro muscular therapist Conor Stack.
Speaking to The Clare Echo, Clare manager Colm Collins confirmed they will not be able to call on the Kilfenora defender for the crunch tie with Cork. “The only one definitely out is Cian O’Dea, he’s ligaments torn in the back of his knee so he is definitely going to be out”.
An away trip to Derry this month marked the first time that O’Dea was omitted from the starting Clare in the National Football League since he made his championship debut in 2016. For the seven seasons that the Banner County consolidated their status in Division 2, Cian was a central figure and one of the side’s top performers.
His absence from the half-back line will come as a blow given the influence of the Éire Óg hurler in launching Clare counter-attacks. Ciaran Russell’s showing at the weekend may tempt management to trial the Garda in a similar attacking half-back role for the championship.
Corofin’s Jamie Malone normally a regular in the county’s half-forward line, impressed at centre back in Clare’s facile final round win over Limerick on Sunday and certainly put his hand up for inclusion in this line of the field for the Cork game.
Cillian Rouine’s return from injury also provides another option to Collins and his management in defence where Cillian Brennan will wear number three.
Dermot Coughlan who started in all but one game for Clare during the Allianz NFL was wearing a protective boot in Cusack Park on Sunday while midfielder Darren O’Neill has been sidelined with a broken thumb which he sustained in the first round against Louth.
Collins told The Clare Echo that the duo will be available for selection for the Munster quarter-final.