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Brennan questions ref’s crucial call

CLARE captain Gary Brennan left Cusack Park on Sunday evening clearly affected by the rib injury he picked up at the end of the NFL campaign.

On Monday morning the Clondegad midfielder had the rib medically examined and was relieved to find that it’s not as serious as it looked. That nagging injury aside however, Brennan was still frustrated at the memory of referee Derek Fahy awarding a second half free out against him, when a second goal looked on.

“It seemed really harsh. All I can recall is that he (Eoghan Cadogan) had a hold of my hand and I just tried to shake off the hand. I actually thought the referee had blown for a penalty. I was mad because having got the possession, I was annoyed that he had stopped the play. I couldn’t really believe when he gave the free out. I think you’ll see much worse than that go on and I think you saw worse than that yesterday with no frees to Clare. It didn’t decide the game but it certainly would have put Cork under a lot of pressure if we had finished it. The umpire said to me that he thought it was a very strange decision,” Brennan revealed, adding that he feels referees favour a high profile team when making marginal calls.

“We had that referee last year, when we played a game against another division 4 team. I thought he had a fine game. It just seems when we come up against the bigger counties, we don’t get any of the 50/50 calls. That’s the nature of the game I suppose. He’s going to benefit more from getting Cork games. That’s a fairly heavy accusation to make but definitely we didn’t get any 50/50 calls,” the Clare captain maintained.

Brennan banged in Clare’s only goal three minutes into the second half. He was honest enough to admit there was an element of luck attached to his finish.

“I don’t have much memory of it but there was a large degree of fortune to it. I was half blocked down which took it under the keeper. They got a break for their goal too,” he reflected.

With regard to his ongoing rib problem, Brennan is trying not to dwell on it.

“The rib has been affecting me since I fractured it towards the end of the league. That’s what was bothering me again yesterday. You pick up bangs in games and, while it was quite sore at the end of the game, it has improved a bit so hopefully in three week’s time I’ll be right again. I felt it had improved and I had got back to full training for about two weeks until I picked up a knock again. But I’ve been able to do bits and pieces here and there, bike work and things like that. There’s ways of working around it. It’s not ideal but you just have to put up with it. It really needs a rest but I don’t have the time at the moment,” he told The Clare Champion on Monday.

Normally a midfielder, Brennan spent most of Sunday’s game at full-forward, where Michael Shields and Cadogan struggled to deal with his movement and strength.

“Definitely the quality of ball coming in was good. We created some problems for them, although we were probably fairly wasteful with the first four or five possessions we got inside. Once we settled and got a score on the board we started causing them some real problems and had them quite worried I think. It’s just a pity we didn’t worry them a little bit more. Having got within two points of them they definitely seemed to be concerned and they were starting to miss a couple of chances. There is no good time to concede a goal but these things happen. We got in at half time and said we wanted to attack them early on in the second half and try to put them under pressure again. We felt we had the potential to do that but even when we got the goal, they responded very well with three quick points,” he noted.

Clare are likely to be in second round All-Ireland qualifier action on Saturday, July 6. Gary Brennan expects his team will be hugely motivated when that date comes around.

“Leaving the pitch yesterday a lot of guys were looking forward to the qualifiers already. There was no sense of feeling sorry for ourselves. Guys have been in the pool already this morning (Monday) doing a recovery session. Already the focus has moved to the qualifiers. We won’t know the fixture until the week beforehand. Lads are looking forward to getting another game and while we were disappointed with the end result, there was a lot of positives to be taken from the performance,” he said.

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