*Tony Kelly. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

CLARE’S TONY KELLY says the performance from Sunday’s Munster final is the most difficult aspect to stomach from the defeat.

Speaking at the launch of the All-Ireland SHC at the Michael Cusack Centre in Carron on Tuesday, Tony admitted that Clare’s display in the six point loss to Limerick in the provincial decider added to their pain.

He said, “Losing is obviously disappointing in itself, but it’s the performance that would eat at you more so”.

While it was the third Munster final meeting in a row between the two counties, the 2024 edition proved to be a comfortable victory for John Kiely’s Limerick who won the provincial championship for the sixth year in a row.

Kelly said, “The 2022 final was just a helter-skelter and anyone could have won it. Last year, we felt we left chances after us coming down the home straight, but we performed relatively well. The last day, we didn’t play well enough in general. We got a bit of a purple patch. When I say we got a bit of a purple patch eight, nine, 10 minutes of the second half and we didn’t even capitalise on it or get closer to ask the question”.

He outlined, “It’s a feeling like we didn’t force them to win it, whereas the two previous years we felt we did, as in we performed. We could have no complaint at the weekend. They were the better team from start to finish. We probably didn’t make use of the wind in the first half and we knew we needed that goal big time before half-time. Then, in the second half, we needed to get the goal that they got. Obviously, losing is disappointing. We’re trying to win the Munster championship, but the biggest disappointment is the performance”.

Defeat to Limerick once again means the wait for a first Munster SHC in Clare which stretches back to 1998 continues. “It’s a huge motivation for ourselves individually, collectively. It’s a huge thing within the county as well. There’s no getting away from it. The county is starved of Munster success,” the Tiermaclane man said.

According to the St Flannan’s teacher, Clare “hit a wall” and didn’t recover following their 2022 Munster final loss to Limerick before suffering a 2-26 0-20 hammering at the hands of Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semi-final. “We probably didn’t deserve to get out of the 2022 quarter-final [against Wexford], whereas last year we probably learned from it, didn’t hit a wall in the quarter-final, but didn’t play well in the first half of the semi-final [against Kilkenny] but played very well for 20-25 minutes of the second half. It’s [Munster title] obviously something we want to achieve, but we have to park it now until next winter.”

An ankle injury has disrupted the four-time All Star’s involvement in the championship, the Munster final was his first start of 2024 and he’s hopeful of having a more influential role as Clare look to bounce back. “It’s on those lads and the panel members to really drive it on because now you’re heading into an All-Ireland series coming off a defeat and there are probably a couple of places up for grabs,” he said.

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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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