*Diarmuid Ryan. Photograph: Martin Connolly
Cutting down on the amount of frees conceded was worked on all week in training, it was evident in the eyes of Diarmuid Ryan whose focus has now switched to making the league quarter-finals.
In 2017, the Mary Immaculate College student was wing back on the Clare minor side that lost the provincial final to Cork, he lined out in the same line of the field for Cratloe last year as they made the county final but this year Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor have trialled him in the half-forward line where has scored three points versus Kilkenny, two against Cork and four in yesterday’s win over Wexford.
On whether he is more at home in the backs or forwards, Ryan said attackers now have to be more defensive and vice versa. “That’s the way the game has gone now, there are a lot of attacking players gone up and down the wings, you see David Fitzgerald getting two points and he could have got a goal as well. When the backs give us the ball we do the scoring and we’re just delighted they held out in the last few minutes”.
Clare’s final tally of 2-22 came he felt due to David McInerney operating as a sweeper. “We knew if we played a sweeper it would give a licence to the boys to attack up the field. In some of the rounds, we’ve had a lot of wides but today I thought was very good and we’re delighted with that aspect of it, in the second half some of them went wide and we need them to be going over come championship. There are a lot of things to work on, we’re still in February and we’ll continue on next week”.
When he pointed his third point of the day on forty nine minutes, it gave Clare a 2-18 0-11 advantage, from here the only job left to do was close out the game which they struggled to do but Diarmuid admitted that he always knew a Wexford resurgence would come. “We knew that was coming, Davy wasn’t going to let anything go too easy here and we knew they would be a savage battle, thank God we held on at the end and it was credit to Wexford as well they really put it to us in the second half and we’re thankful our backs held out in the last few minutes. It could have been a different story, some of us those wides they had in the first half if they went over the bar and we had a few chances as well. There are a lot of things to work on for next Sunday and a win there will get us into a quarter-final”.
From their last two outings, the Banner have scored 1-32 from play. It is a statistic that has pleased both management and players including the Dr Harty Cup winner. “It’s a serious amount of scoring. Last week we saw down in Cork, we put up another good score but it’s our frees but I thought our tackling today was a lot better, thank God we came out with the two points, a solid performance”.
Having referenced the Cork game, their discipline was inevitably going to pop up as a question to which he replied, “It is something we looked at all week in training, we assessed it in training and said fifteen scoreable frees was too much and come championship you won’t win too many games with that. We still had soft frees given away on our point of view but we worked on it so we’re happy about that”.
He stated his aspiration to make the League quarter-finals and to do that they at the very least have to beat Limerick. “When they come here it’s going to be a tough battle and if we win we’ll hopefully get into a quarter-final so we’ll enjoy this win, assess it and take out the positives and negatives but we’ll get straight back to training and assess Limerick on Tuesday night”.