*Brian O’Connell rallies the Clare minor hurlers. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
GROWING SELF-BELIEF was the main hurdle for Clare’s minor hurlers to overcome this year.
Following a 6-28 0-06 defeat to Cork in last year’s Munster minor hurling championship, Clare have crafted a remarkable turnaround to find themselves now sixty minutes away from becoming provincial champions.
Former Clare senior hurling captain, Brian O’Connell is in his first year as minor manager was immensely proud of their progress to date. “Our biggest challenge with these lads was just making them believe in themselves and when they did that, they’re just starting to skyrocket. We obviously need to bring them back down to earth because there’s a final to be played next week but look, they deserve it. From what some of them went through playing Cork last year, this is a massive turnaround for them to put some demons to bed and I’m delighted for them”.
BOC had been hopeful that the final would be played as a curtain raiser before a senior inter-county game but Munster GAA have confirmed it will now be a stand-alone fixture taking place this Wednesday at 7:30pm in TUS Gaelic Grounds.
Reflecting on their semi-final win, the Shannon man said, “Cork’s goal just before half-time was a sucker-punch and it probably was a square ball. I’d need to see it again but up to that we were flying it and they [Cork] didn’t know how to live with our intensity. We were putting them under serious pressure all over the field and I thought that we were going to go into the break a few points up but you know what, It probably made the message easier that it was a draw at half-time to keep going and dig deeper. And they did, they gave it to us in spades”.
Their first round tie with Tipperary when they lost by six points is going to stand to Clare, the 2006 Clare SHC winner with Wolfe Tones believed. “The lads will go into that final knowing that they were certainly in that first game against Tipp and that there’s not much to fear in terms of knowing that they’re at the same level as them. That said, the games that Tipp have got will only stand to them and they’ll obviously have progressed since that first game against us as well. So it’s all to play for”.