Clare may never have won a championship match in Croke Park but they do have a perfect record against Roscommon after seeing off the Connacht side in a qualifier in Salthill in 2016.
Coincidentally, that victory qualified the Banner for their last Croke Park appearance, an All-Ireland Quarter-Final against Kerry that didn’t quite live up to its heightened all-Munster rematch billing.
Indeed, throughout their 28 match qualifier record (12 victories and 16 defeats), the biggest scalp Clare have taken over that 22 year span was against Roscommon in that sole clash that saw them comfortably prevail by 2-12 to 1-9.
After all, Roscommon were just off the back of contesting the National League Division 1 Semi-Final against Kerry and had only been edged out of provincial honours after a final replay against Galway.
Six years on and Clare only possess seven survivors from that memorable day and pitch invasion (Cian O’Dea, Cathal O’Connor, Jamie Malone, Keelan Sexton, Pearse Lillis, David Tubridy and Eoin Cleary).
However, while they haven’t exactly had a similar run as in 2016 when overcoming Laois and Sligo, Clare should still take great confidence and hopefully momentum too from Saturday’s significant victory over Meath who previously had the Indian sign over the Banner.
That Clare mixed the good with the bad was perhaps inevitable considering their five week lay-off but while events seemed to be incrementally conspiring against them, crucially they dug deep to carve out victory.
That it’s Roscommon who are the opposition for Clare’s long-awaited return to Croke Park should also add to the occasion as outside of newly crowned Ulster champions Derry, Clare were the only side to dent Roscommon’s otherwise flawless Division 2 promotion run with a 0-9 to 0-9 draw in Dr. Hyde Park in February.
Roscommon of course will enter as favourites, due to their superior experience both in GAA Headquarters as well as provincial finals. However, only a fortnight on from the Rossies’ first defeat of 2022 in the Connacht decider to Galway (2-19 to 2-16), Clare will need a fast start to put further doubts in their minds.
With nothing to lose and everything to gain in what is only the county’s fourth ever championship outing in Croke Park, it’s perhaps the perfect backdrop to express themselves fully.
All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Round 2
Clare v Roscommon
at Croke Park Dublin,
(Niall Cullen, Fermanagh)