*Cillian Brennan. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

“THERE IS still a place in the All-Ireland championship for us,” insisted Clare senior football captain Cillian Brennan in the wake of a disappointing fourteen point loss to Tyrone.

Both Clare and Tyrone were level in terms of amount of scores by half time in Sunday’s second round All-Ireland SFC tie in Omagh but crucially two of the Ulster finalist’s five scores were green flags, both scored by corner back Niall Devlin.

Brian Dooher’s side produced a strong final quarter, outscoring Clare 1-9 0-2 to power to a fourteen point victory which undid the positive aspects of Clare’s showing earlier in the contest.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Brennan admitted, “We’re very disappointed, we came up here to try win the game. Looking back on the first half, we probably thought we had been punished for a small few lapses where they got through, we felt we were still in the game and there was plenty to compete for, it was very disappointing the nature of the way it ended and the scoreline for a finish. We didn’t do ourselves justice”.

He outlined, “We knew there was a huge battle ahead of us today, there was a huge amount on the line for both teams but we’re still in it, there’s another opportunity in two weeks time and it’s just a case of us refocusing the minds and being ready for that”.

Losing Ikem Ugwueru to a black card on the third minute was a blow for Clare but Cillian felt they handled it well. “The nature of going down a man quite early we dealt with that quite well, we showed a bit of maturity in how we did it but at the same time we felt we could have extended things a bit further, some of the things that challenged us against Cork where they dropped back and we tried inject a bit of pace into it with numbers and get runners on the ball, we struggled with that a bit at times and I suppose it is important we learn from that especially ahead of Donegal in two weeks”.

Once again it was Clare’s use of the ball and decisions when in possession were part of their downfall, the Clondegad clubman acknowledged. “You have to be very careful in how you mind the ball against teams of this quality because they will punish you if you give the ball away. In the first half, we possibly got away with that at times but we were still naïve in bringing it into contact in areas when we knew they would congest it and set traps for us and try swarm us by getting bodies in. Again towards the end we gave away a few soft turnovers when we committed to try chase the game, you’re left open then and it is a pity to get some of those scores and stretch it to a scoreline like that”.

Next Saturday, McHale Park in Castlebar will host their meeting with Donegal who will be keen to bounce back following a shock loss to Cork. Qualification hopes for Clare are still alive, they just need to ensure Jim McGuinness’ side fall to successive defeats. “There’s still a place in the All-Ireland championship for us, we’re not gone and it is all to play for. We know the quality that Donegal have, we have to be in the right frame of mind for everything we do over the next two weeks, recover well and have a right crack at it, there’s nothing to lose, we’ll have a go”.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

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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