*Jamie Stack and Sean Crowley wrestle for possession. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Clare’s senior football championship is a far cry from subbuteo, one of the managers hoping to cause an upset in this weekend’s quarter-final has said.
Donie Garrihy’s St Breckans take on St Josephs Miltown in Cusack Park on Sunday (3pm) with last year’s semi-finalists hoping to take down the 2018 and 2019 champions.
Having momentum with three wins from as many outings is a help for the men from Lisdoonvarna, Doolin and Kilshanny, Garrihy maintained. “There’s been always this thing in the GAA of dummy teams and let’s not win this game, I could never figure it out, I know in soccer you go to win every single match, that comes from playing eighteen matches in the league and having to win every single match, I know in the Oscar Traynor you have to win every single match and treat every match as a final. If you put out a dummy team, you will be sitting like a dummy from the outside looking in. Momentum is a great thing in sport and if you have momentum behind you then you have a bounce and that’s what we are trying to create, it started in 2019 and we’re trying to continue the bounce, I’m not going to disguise that”.
Physicality and tough challenges are par for the course with the games at this level, Donie who led St Breckans to intermediate glory in 2019 outlined. “This is the senior football championship, we’re not playing subbuteo, it’s not like we’re on a tablet and playing with our thumbs, this is the real thing and the beauty of the GAA, you can go play bingo on a Thursday night or down the hall on a Friday night and you don’t have to prepare, when you play football welcome to the real world, that is the beauty of the GAA, it is just amazing.
Battling past Cooraclare in their final group game served as good preparation for Miltown, but it would not be sufficient to win a quarter-final tie, manager Michael Neylon said. He referenced this game and their clash with Ennistymon as examples of already surviving knockout ties this year.
Éire Óg are back in Cusack Park on Saturday (4:30pm) having travelled west to defeat Doonbeg in their last group game. Venues are irrelevant according to the manager of the Ennis side, Paul Madden. “There has been a lot of talk that Éire Óg are uncomfortable coming out of Ennis to play games, the reality is we never played games in Ennis before last year until we were in a county final, we had no problem coming to West Clare, long grass, short grass, West Clare or East Clare, it doesn’t matter to us, we are determined to get the job done”.
Their quarter-final opponents are Ennistymon who secured their place while knocking out Cratloe. Impact from substitutes has been a strong feature of the North Clare’s side progress to date with Ross O’Doherty (2-00) and Diarmuid Fahy (1-02) to the fore in their two championship wins of 2021. “All these games take twenty players generally, it is tough conditions out there playing at high-energy and a high level, you do need an impact coming in and that’s an important part of our overall plan,” manager Noel Crowe admitted.
In the remaining quarter-finals, champions Kilmurry Ibrickane are expected to account for Kilmihil when they meet on Saturday (1:30pm). Kilmihil boss, Gerry Downes detailed that the last eight has been their target from the get-go, “Lads might think this is bonus territory. We set out stall out at the start of the year and our target was to get to the quarter final. We are there and you know what when your are there you want to go on and win the quarter final”.
Beaten semi-finalists in 2020 Lissycasey face last year’s intermediate winners St Josephs Doora/Barefield on Sunday (12pm). Cusack Park hosts all four senior quarter-finals.