*Clare manager, Sean Doyle. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Clare needed to be six or seven points ahead at half time in Monday’s Munster under 20 hurling championship quarter final clash with title holders Tipperary as there was a strong breeze blowing down the field.
That’s according to team manager Sean Doyle who said Clare “played well in the first half and probably were robbed of a goal as Mark Rodgers was taken out of it. Look, these things go against you. We are a young inexperienced team and physically Tipp were that bit better and they ran a bit amok there in the second half”.
Doyle was hugely proud of the team’s efforts. “You have to give great credit to our lads. We were rocked as you know in the last two weeks with the spate of injuries we have. I know it’s no excuse but the players we were missing were really key men. To lose Shane Meehan last night at the final hour was a killer blow. He would have loved that type of game out there with a bit of space”.
“That is water under the bridge now. Fourteen of the lads that played there tonight are all available to this age group again next year. For now we have to take it on the chin. Tipp were the better team, physically stronger but I couldn’t be more proud of our lads”, the Bodyke man stated.
He believed the penalty awarded to Tipperary was “border line” but flagged that Clare missed scoreable opportunities on a day when every chance needed to be taken.
Doyle stated, “We tried to nullify them in the first half and we brought Cian (Galvin) back for a while but we really needed him up the field. He played very well in the role. We threw caution to the wind in the second half and pushed him up the field and this left some gaps at the back. The lads fought gamely. Paddy Donnellan was immense. It’s a learning curve. Its hard to take now but we will move on”.
The manager felt that Clare “were unlucky a couple of times in the first half. Diarmuid Cahill, a young lad and Conner Hegarty tried hard. I don’t know how Conner went out there tonight. He was injured but he answered the call and he put in a good shift as well. They are all players for the future”.
Having made the move from minor, Sean has now completed two years at the helm with the U20s. “We came down here to win, we don’t want to be second best. We came to win and we didn’t win. We have to take it on the chin. We will look back on it as a management team and see where things went wrong. They moved the ball very well, they are physically very strong around the middle and Connolly is a fair strong player. Look, we tried everything. We brought on the five subs. We gave as many players game time as we could tonight and hopefully that will stand to them in the future”.
Tipperary’s greater experience was decisive. “Tipperary had six players that played in an All-Ireland final last year. We were under no illusions coming down here. They are good players. I don’t think I have ever seen a bad Tipp team and when they are at home it’s hard to beat them. We are all down tonight but we have to move on. Look, under these circumstances with Covid aren’t we lucky to play here today. Tomorrow there might be no games”.