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Clare manager Mark Fitzgerald encourages his team from the sideline versus Wicklow. Photograph by Natasha Barton

Consistency the aim as Fitzgerald’s footballers look to end ‘topsy turvy stuff’

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It may have been Clare’s biggest victory of this year’s National League to date and back-to-back wins for the first time but new manager Mark Fitzgerald still wasn’t getting caught up in the euphoria or feel-good factor in Cusack Park.
You see, what the final scoreline did mask was a painfully slow start for the Banner that despite having a strong wind at their backs were largely chasing a Wicklow side devoid of confidence and points.
However, the game changed utterly and absolutely with that rousing brace of Cormac Murray goals just before the break.
“We scored 2-15 and conceded 0-8 but when it was a game I felt we were decent without being brilliant.” Outlined Fitzgerald immediately afterwards. “We had some sloppy turnovers early on but we got the goals and they gave us that little bit of comfort really.”
Three wins from four puts the Banner firmly looking upwards for the remaining three ties but the Tralee native was quick to ransack any potential castles in the sky.
“It does [put us in a strong position] but we haven’t time to reflect on that really as we’ve just a six day turnaround now to play Limerick which won’t be easy again. We can only take it game-by-game as we have a lot of inexperience and you could see that especially at the start when we committed crazy, silly turnovers when there was no need to do it.
“A lot of the turnovers were high up the pitch and we were getting caught out of position but I suppose there are learnings in that. We have got to get better but we’re getting away with it at the moment and I’m not saying I’m happy with that, I’m not but it still part of the learning process for this team.
“We’ll just have to go back to the training ground and try to work on that a bit more.
“So look, any day when you score 2-15 and only concede eight points, you’d have to be relatively happy but there’s lots for us to work on as we saw out there.”
That devastating pair of goals powered Clare 2-5 to 0-4 clear by the break, a position from which they never looked back over the shoulders.
“We were seven up at half-time and we haven’t been in that situation in the three games to date as it’s normally been back-to-the-wall and topsy turvy stuff. So there’s learning in that alone perhaps in how to control a game and get better at doing that.”
This Saturday’s Shannonside derby presents a unique scenario for Fitzgerald who was in charge of Limerick when the sides met last year. However, there won’t be any distractions as Clare look to maintain their current momentum.
“It won’t be easy in Rathkeale at 6pm on a Saturday evening but the challenge for us is can we keep it going.
“I mean we got more lads on the pitch today and gave the squad more exposure but the bottom line is that we need experience and the only way to get experience is by playing games.
“We have never spoke about that [relegation] as a group nor have we spoken about promotion, it’s just game-to-game and up next is Limerick who won’t be easy to overcome but you just keep going.”

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