*Podge Collins is sandwiched between Conor Glass and Lachlan Murray. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

PRODUCING a below par performance left Clare senior football manager, Colm Collins annoyed as they fell to their first defeat of the 2022 Allianz National Football League.

Derry inflicted a nine point loss on Collins’ charges in Cusack Park on Sunday, an outcome that is likely to hinder their chances of securing promotion to Division 1. “I’m disappointed with the manner of the loss, it was a very poor display by us to be honest about it,” the Kilmihil native admitted.

Darren O’Neill had just equalised for Clare at the beginning of the second half before they conceded 1-01 in succession, the response at this stage was not adequate, Collins maintained. “The second half I thought we didn’t really react to the goal we conceded, we let them boss the game and we were chasing the game after that which is difficult against a team which is very well organised defensively. It was a very poor display by us, there is no other way of dressing it up, if you are playing better teams you get punished and that’s what happened today”.

As they carved out a draw with Roscommon in Dr Hyde Park a week previous, Clare showed great strength in the air and especially on their own kickouts. This was not evident when facing Derry, “We struggled badly on our own kickout, that is the platform for launching attacks, it really put us under fierce pressure,” he acknowledged.

Similarly, the Cratloe man pointed to the pace at which Clare moved the ball as a reason for them failing to properly test their counterparts. “We moved the ball slowly, we discussed this and the only way to get joy against Derry is to move the ball at 90 miles an hour when you turn them over, if you give them time to get their defensive structure in place then it is quite hard to get through, it didn’t happen quickly enough”.

As they sit on top of the table, Derry look well primed for promotion. “We knew it was going to be quite daunting, it’s not somewhere I’ve been too often definitely not as a coach, I played Clare a few times at home but the boys have never really been here. Obviously we respect Clare a lot but we respect ourselves so we came down and prepared really well to be ready to deliver, the boys love playing for their county and they enjoyed that,” Rory Gallagher outlined.

“To be honest we were a good bit the better team in the first half and only a point up, at one stage it was 0-06 0-03 and we should have been making it 0-07 0-03 but all of a sudden Clare got a bit of momentum but you’re not going to play a team like Clare or any team and dominate from start to finish, Clare are one of the top ten or twelve teams in the country,” the Derry boss added.

With eleven League wins on the trot, his side are on course to record back to back promotions but the former Donegal coach felt Clare were not out of the promotion race, just yet. “Clare aren’t out of it but it looks like the game between ourselves Galway and Roscommon will have a massive bearing on it, we wanted to earn the right to be there, we’ve done that and looked after our business, we’ve got to make this an unbelievable two weeks to get ready for Roscommon”.

They focused on exploiting the Clare kickouts, he admitted. “Kickouts are a massive part of it and at the end of the day if you win more ball you defend less, it’s a very simple philosophy but it is hard to do. Clare are an established team but we feel since Conor Glass has come back into it and how Conor Lavery has pushed it on that we’ve strength around the middle of the field but it is only as good as your forwards shutting it down and I thought we did that quite well”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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