Eoin Brennan previews the Munster Minor Hurling Championship Round 3 clash between Clare and Waterford at Cusack Park, Ennis
There was a real sense of deflation for Clare as they left Semple Stadium with nothing to show for their efforts in a game they felt that they were seemingly in control of.
However, Tipperary’s quickfire brace of second half goals did reveal a lot about Clare’s pack as some stood up to the challenge while others faltered under the increased intensity.
Being a first outing, it was hardly going to be a perfect competitive bow anyway and manager Brian O’Connell only has to consult fellow mentors Cyril Lyons (seniors reaching All-Ireland Final in 2002) and Donal Moloney (winning 2010 Munster Minor title) about bouncing straight back from opening defeats.
However, with two guaranteed matches remaining, a victory may not a prerequisite against Waterford on Tuesday evening but it would certainly grease the wheels ahead of the quarter-finals according to manager Brian O’Connell.
“[A win would be important] just for confidence and everything like that. After all, we were facing into the unknown for the Tipperary game.
“Obviously we would have played challenge matches but they are often a false reflection and being the first championship match for these players in Thurles, there was a little bit of the unknown but I think the boys responded very well.
“At half-time, we felt that we were the better team and while the second half didn’t exactly pan how how we would have liked, that first match is under the lads’ belts now, the nerves will be settled somewhat and more significantly they will know from tonight’s experience that they are not far off it.”
O’Connell and Co. will be wary of a Waterford side that also came up agonisingly short against Tipperary despite hitting only a solitary wide over the hour in a 1-22 to 0-23 opening reverse a fortnight earlier.
“We just have to improve a little bit,” continued O’Connell. “We knew a lot about our players prior to this but tonight was a different test altogether. There was a decent crowd here but you’d swear there was 20,000 in the stands at the roar that came for Tipperary’s second goal.
“Whether it’s nerves or whatever, some lads react differently so it’s about honing that for next Tuesday.
“If you win that, you finish second in the group which would make a big difference who you face in the quarter-finals so obviously we want to win and hopefully we will.”