*Clare goalkeeper Micaela Glynn under pressure. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
After another fruitless day long excursion up North, this time playing outside the EU for the very first time, one would have expected Clare’s mood to be quite downbeat on Saturday evening, especially after being pummelled by the incessant wind and rain in Tyrone GAA’s Centre of Excellence in Garvaghey.
Instead however, the post-match atmosphere was refreshingly sanguine, having competed increasingly well against senior opposition on successive away weekends, according to selector Enda O’Halloran. “I suppose people at home are expecting us to get wins but we’re building towards the championship, that’s our main goal this year. And we’ve asked the girls to improve every day they go out so it’s great that that is happening in the main and that’s all we can ask for really.
“Don’t get me wrong, it was tough going today, starting with the long trip up. Luckily enough, it was an all-weather field so conditions underfoot weren’t too bad but the wind and the rain didn’t help. And at the end of the day, it’s disappointing that we didn’t get a result but the performance we can take a lot of positives out of it.
“People do look at results first and foremost but the bottom line is that we’re happy, the management are happy with the way the girls are going. And I can only say that the girls are working awful, awful hard and that there hasn’t been any win on the board yet is not for the want of trying. It’s not easy coming up to places like this trying to get a result but they left everything out on the field today and we can’t ask for anymore than that.”
They certainly couldn’t and with a bit more ruthlessness in front of goal, Clare could have come away with a valuable scalp, only to be sucker-punched at the death with a late brace of Tyrone goals. “The way it panned out, we seemed to have to work harder for our own scores and they [Tyrone] did get a couple of fortuitous goals which in these weather conditions happens as we got one with Grainne [Nolan]’s shot that ended up in the net as well. But look, we created more chances today than we did against Monaghan and Armagh so that’s another positive for us.”
Having faced three senior sides in as many weeks, O’Halloran and Co. do have a two week break to get themselves ready for the prospect of hosting Meath, a fellow intermediate side that will provide a far more accurate barometer of where Clare currently lie despite being currently understrength.
“We have absentees through injury, work commitments but you can look at it the other way too in that we’re getting the chance to look at other girls as well. That has to happen as they’re training equally as hard as the starting 15 so it has given us a great chance to look at everyone and it will be the same for two weeks’ time against Meath.
“It will be another tough challenge as Meath have been in the All-Ireland Intermediate Final for the past two years. So they’re a good outfit so we’ll have to be as good if not better again to get something out of that.”