For the second year in succession, Clare’s minor footballers will compete in the Munster Final and once again they go in as the underdogs.
It was a one-sided affair in Killarney last year as Kerry cruised to a 2-21 0-03 win over Clare. 2018 is different as the age-group is now U17 as opposed to U18, so the panel of players wearing the Saffron and Blue won’t carry baggage of a heavy provincial final defeat but instead will look to atone for the minors of the year gone by, the same group of players that have given them hope in reaching the big day in Munster football.
Wolfe Tones’ Conor Carrig is ruled out through injury for the Banner ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Kerry at Pairc Ui Chaoimh which throws in at 4:30pm. Apart from that, Maurice Walsh and his selectors have a full squad to pick from.
“We’re all looking forward to it, it’s going to be a big challenge for us taking on Kerry but I think our lads are ready for a battle and we’ll perform well and that’s all we’re looking for a good performance,” Walsh told The Clare Echo.
He feels Clare getting to the final for the second year in a row is a huge lift for football in the county. “It’s fantastic for Clare to be in back to back finals. Fortunately or unfortunately with the grade dropping to U17 that none of our lads or the Kerry lads would have been in that position last year so there’s no tailback of squads from year to year so it’s a new venture for us and a new venture for them”.
“We haven’t focused much on Kerry, we’re focusing more so on our game. Kerry have pedigree and tradition but in a final that all goes out the window and our lads are prepared to cope with them things”.
Both Conor Carrigg and Shane Meehan were part of both the county hurling and football panels. Maurice admits that the football management had an excellent working relationship with Sean Doyle and his selectors. “The hurling management has been very good to us and we’ve been very good to them in relation to accessing players. Shane is an exceptional talent for his age and he’s a guy that has to be minded all the way up along”.
Key to Clare getting a positive result on Saturday is a strong start according to the Éire Óg clubman. “We got a good start against Limerick so we’d be hoping for a similar repeat of that type of performance and expansion of play. If we do that and reap the benefits in front of goal we’ll put it up to them”.
Walsh and his management team have named their starting fifteen to take on Kerry. Ennistymon’s Cillian Rouine captains the side from centre back with dual player Shane Meehan at full forward in a line which also includes Mark McInerney, son of 92 captain Frances.