Clare will be without Jamie Malone as they bid to overcome Mayo and seal their place in Division 1 of the Allianz National Football League.
Mayo have been “the second best team in the country over the past ten years and we couldn’t get a better game than to be playing them at this stage of the season. It’s the second year in a row that it’s down to one game for us to get promotion to the top division. The ball is in our own court”.
So said Clare football manager Colm Collins earlier this week when looking ahead to Sunday’s Division 2 semi-final clash with Mayo in Cusack Park (throw in at 1.45p.m.).
Podge Collins is in the running for game time on Sunday, having recovered from the hamstring injury which has kept him out of the league campaign to date, an injury he picked up a week before Clare’s opening round win over Laois.
Defender Eoghan Collins who missed the Cork game due to injury trained with the squad at the weekend and is expected to challenge for game time this week. Incidentally he plays his club football with Ballyhaunis in Mayo.
However Jamie Malone who was injured in the opening minute of that game won’t play any part in this week’s game and neither will Kevin Harnett who suffered injury in the game against Cork last week.
Malone is making steady progress and is expected to be in the running for inclusion in the match day squad for the Munster championship clash with Kerry at the end of June but Harnett isn’t expected to be fit for action for a number of weeks.
Clare welcomed Mayo to Ennis in July 2017 for the championship qualifiers when the Connacht men prevailed 2-14 0-13. “We gifted them a goal and they eventually won by six on that occasion,” recalled Collins.
Mayo will carry the favourites tag into Sunday’s clash and will bring a very experienced outfit to Cusack Park that will include Lee Keegan, Colm Boyle, Aidan O’Shea, Kevin McLaughlin and Cillian O’Connor to mention but some.
Ciaran Russell, Sean Collins, Cian O’Dea, Cathal O’Connor, Pearse Lillis, David Tubridy and team captain Eoin Cleary have been to the fore in Clare’s march to this stage of the competition.
Having been so close to promotion to Division 1 last year, they will be determined to go that extra step this time. It promises to be a close affair.
Clare boss Collins is delighted that some spectators will be allowed into the game. “It’s good that it is opening up a bit and hopefully the numbers attending will increase in the coming weeks”.
1: Stephen Ryan (Kilrush Shamrocks)
2: Ciaran Russell (Eire Og)
3: Cillian Brennan (Clondegad)
4: Eoghan Collins (Ballyhaunis)
5: Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora)
6: Sean Collins (Cratloe)
7: Daniel Walsh (Kilmurry-Ibrickane)
8: Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen)
9: Darren O’Neill (Éire Óg)
10: Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare)
11: Eoin Cleary (St Josephs Miltown)
12: Darragh Bohannon (Shannon Gaels)
13: Gavin Cooney (Éire Óg)
14: Joe Mc Gann (St. Breckans)
15: David Tubridy (Doonbeg)