Clare minor hurling manager Terence Chaplin is under no illusions of the task his side face when they travel to Semple Stadium to face Cork next Wednesday (throw in 7.30pm).
With Cork starting to show signs of rejuvenation in the underage categories in hurling, Chaplin cites the fact that Cork won the Arrabawn U15 hurling Cup and Plate competitions in 2019, with many of that panel now set to be in the way of Clare reaching a Munster semi-final against Limerick.
“It is going to be a massive challenge. We know what they did at the U15 age grade two years ago so it’s going to be tough for sure.”
Chaplin admits the reduced time that he has had to work with the group of players has been a challenge. However, he believes his side are well prepared to tackle the challenge Cork will pose.
“I feel that preparations are going well for the game. It is condensed. We’ve had eight or nine weeks preparation since we were allowed to return to the field. We had a panel of 75 lads there two months ago before we cut it down. We are happy with the progress of our core group of players.”
“The attitude and the application of the lads has been excellent. We checked in with them a lot through zoom and we did it online before we were allowed on the pitch.
“We have seen huge changes since the lads have gotten on to the field. We used the time away front the pitch to try and teach them about nutrition and we’ve had classes with them on sports psychology. They seem to be responding well to it all.”
Chaplin is aware of the importance of producing a performance next Wednesday with this competition run on a straight knockout basis.
“It is tough because you are looking for a performance but with no round robin it’s about getting the win straight away. We would love a couple of wins to develop the lads more. At the end of the day it’s about feeding in to the U20s and seniors.”
Two players who were part of the Clare panel last year Michael Nash and Liam Kavanagh look set to miss out on facing Cork. Nash is rehabbing a cruciate ligament injury while Kavanagh has a groin complaint. Wolfe Tones’ Sam Meaney (broken wrist) and Clooney Quin’s Sam Scanlon (dead leg) are also unlikely to feature.
Chaplin has previously managed the Sixmilebridge intermediate hurling team and last year he worked as a selector with the Clare minors.
He believes his experience of dealing with a Covid-19 hit Championship helped when the restrictions meant his team were unable to take to the pitch to train until April.
“It has been out of the norm this year. The experience last year helped us to go forward this year so we could adapt what we did and tried to ensure we kept the standard high even though the lads were training at home. The experience last year definitely helped. The application of the players and management has been top class.”
Clare have not enjoyed much success recently at this grade with their last Munster title coming in 2011 while the last time a team at this age group won the All-Ireland title was 1997. However, Chaplin is not concerned with history.
“I think the age dropping from U18 to U17 has made a difference. Sixteen and 17 year olds might not have the same strengths as U18 year olds. Physical development is huge.
“You have other counties who have bigger pools of players at this age grade. We want to be winning but I believe we are seeing players come develop which is massive going forward.”
“There is great work at underage especially with the U15s and U16s so I wouldn’t say we are behind with the age grades and all that. Over the next two to three years it evens itself out.”
by Ivan Smyth
Minors will have to ‘hit the ground running’
Munster Minor Hurling Championship Quarter-Final
Clare v Cork at Semple Stadium Thurles, Wednesday 7.30pm
(Nicky Barry, Waterford)
The last of Clare’s three hurling representatives at championship level, the minors will have to hit the ground running next Wednesday if they are to upset the odds against Cork.
The Rebels have been sweeping the boards at underage level in recent seasons, with this Cork grouping claiming both the Tony Forristal (Under 14) and Under 15 A and B equivalents along the way.
Of course, past glory will be of little relevance on Wednesday as Clare only know too well from their own experiences last year against the same opponents when coming in as All-Ireland Under 15 champions from two years previously. However, it is still a good indicator that will have steeled new manager Terence Chaplin and his experienced backroom team that include Wolfe Tones’ 2015 Munster Intermediate winning manager James Carrig, Sixmilebridge’s three-time county senior winning manager John O’Meara, former county senior Oisin O’Brien and Ballyea’s Barry Coffey.
Cork are under the guidance of a new manager too in Noel Furlong who succeeded Donal Óg Cusack, the former Clare senior coach who managed to brush off the Banner in the Munster Minor Championship opener last October. Clare have only two survivors from the 20 players that lined out in that 1-24 to 2-13 defeat in Liam Kavanagh and James Doherty whereas Cork have eight including Jack Leahy (4), William Buckley (2), Tadhg O’Connell and Eoin O’Leary who combined for eight points in Thurles that afternoon. Add in three of last year’s starting defence in Kevin Lyons, James Dwyer and Ben O’Connor and another from the bench in Darragh O’Sullivan and the Rebels certainly don’t lack experience.
That said, with their championship lives on the line, expect Clare to come out with all guns blazing as undoubtedly they will be primed to try and put Cork on the backfoot from the outset.
Clare Panel: Sean Rynne (Inagh-Kilnamona, Captain); Oisin Breen (Sixmilebridge), Niall Brigdale (Clarecastle), Senan Crosbie (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield), John Cahill (Clooney-Quin), Niall Carrigg (Ballyea), James Doherty (Clarecastle), Adam Enright (Newmarket-on-Fergus), Callum Hassett (Clooney-Quin), Fionn Hayes (Sixmilebridge), Michael Heneghan (Éire Óg), Liam Kavanagh (Éire Óg), Colm Killeen (Kilmaley), Cian Kirby (Ballyea), Tony Leyden (Tulla), Evan Maxted (Clooney-Quin), Sam Meaney (Wolfe Tones), Riain McNamara (Cratloe), Conor Murphy (Sixmilebridge), Michael Nash (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield), Seamus O’Connell (Sixmilebridge), Oisin O’Connor (Inagh-Kilnamona), Ronan O’Connor (Inagh-Kilnamona), Seamie O’Donnell (Inagh-Kilnamona), Niall O’Farrell (Broadford), Jack O’Neill (Clooney-Quin), James Organ (Corofin/Ruan), Sam Scanlan (Clooney-Quin), Billy Scanlon (O’Callaghan’s Mills), Diarmuid Stritch (Clonlara), Conor Whelan (Whitegate), Oisin Whelan (Clarecastle), Shane Woods (Inagh-Kilnamona), Ricky Wynne (Inagh-Kilnamona)
Munster Minor Hurling Championship (Knock-Out)
Quarter-Finals (Wednesday, July 14 at 7.30pm)
Clare v Cork at Semple Stadium
Tipperary v Kerry at LIT Gaelic Grounds, Limerick
Semi-Finals (Tuesday, July 27 7.30pm)
Limerick v Clare or Cork at Semple Stadium, Thurles
Waterford v Tipperary or Kerry at Páirc Uí Rinn
Final (Monday, August 9)
by Eoin Brennan