*Clare’s Gary Brennan. Photograph: Martin Connolly
A shot at the Super 8s is the goal for Clare’s senior footballers in 2019, to keep their hopes alive they must secure a second successive away win in the qualifiers and then overcome one of the beaten provincial finalists.
On Saturday, they travel to Cusack Park in Mullingar where Westmeath off the back of knocking Laois out of the championship will be determined to make home advantage count and prolong their season.
Reflecting on last weekend’s nine point victory over Leitrim, Clare captain Gary Brennan was adamant significant inroads were required if they were to be in contention for the Super 8s. “It was a very good first 35 minutes. We played at good pace but I felt we really dropped our pace and intensity in the second half”.
“Any day you win it helps build confidence, and a good offensive display will certainly help with that but already the backs were giving out there so there is a good bit to tidy up at the back”.
As is well known, “The home team generally has a strong record in the qualifiers,” which Brennan flagged. But as he was possibly too modest to mention, the men in Saffron and Blue have an equally as impressive ability of success on the road when it comes to the qualifiers, their 2016 run to the All-Ireland quarter-final included an away win versus Sligo with neutral venue success over Roscommon.
In the intervening years, Colm Collins’ side have exited the championship in the third round of the qualifiers, losing to Mayo and Armagh. As they return to round three once again, the Clondegad clubman highlighted what’s needed to progress in 2019. “The day we put 70 minutes, or even 60 minutes together, we could be dangerous. We seem to be struggling for that all year”.