Clare’s minor hurlers got their Munster championship off to a flyer with an away victory over Waterford and they now face a tough battle against neighbours Tipperary this afternoon.
The youngsters will aim to get the day off to a perfect start as they are the curtain-raiser for the senior game, and manager Fergal Lynch says his squad are flying since their opening win.
“We put a huge effort into getting ourselves right for the first game as we thought we would have to win at least one away game if we were to qualify, but our target now is to push on and make sure we’re ready for Tipperary this weekend.
“We have looked at the strengths of Tipperary but we have also looked at our own strengths and what we are trying to do is get the very best from our own players. Now, whether we go with an extra defender or play with a flat 15, we will have to decide on that in the coming days. We are able to play three or four different ways and the squad are very good to be able to adapt to that. We are going out all guns blazing now and hopefully the result will go our way,” Lynch said.
Clarecastle’s Cian Galvin was employed as a sweeper in Walsh Park and this, Lynch believes, was key to victory. While many are not in favour of a defensive approach at times, it is a necessity to have more than one style of play at your disposal, according to the minor manager.
“Some people would be critical about us, about the way we have played. I suppose my theory is that these guys are learning and we have to try and teach them the best way to play that will suit them as players. If we had went and played a flat 15 against Waterford, I have no doubt that they would have beaten us as they had been playing a sweeper for so long in training so to counter that we had practised it in training.
“As we saw with the senior Limerick and Cork game, the game has evolved. Cork defended with 10 behind the ball so I think it is time for us as a county to evolve with it or otherwise we’re going to end up like the likes of Laois and Offaly and fall behind,” he believes.
Clare have a good recent record against Tipperary, having beaten them en route to the U-15 All-Ireland title last year, with a good chunk of the same squads likely to feature on Sunday.
“The boys played them in the Arrabawn last year and beat them on the way to winning the Arrabawn, but that is a weekend tournament and this is completely different. As far as we’re concerned they are a very good team and they acquitted themselves very well against Waterford last week.
“They have a very strong physical presence whereas we are kind of light and quick on our feet. We’re hoping our lads will step up as we have a lot of work done, even in the last two weeks we’ve a lot of work done on our game and we hope that will come to fruition on the day.”
The Banner’s full-forward line were in red-hot form on their first outing and if they are fed plenty of possession, it will likely be a good day at the office for those in saffron and blue.
“Keith [Smyth], Diarmaid [Cahill] and Conner [Hegarty] are three very good players and all very fast players with great composure on the ball. We’re hoping they can emulate what they have done already. Pace is a huge strength of ours and trying to get the ball into them as quick as we can is an asset. We can play in many ways to get these lads involved though,” Lynch concluded.