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Footballers can do it in Tullamore

COME 3.30pm on Saturday, the Clare senior footballers’ 2010 campaign will either have picked up immeasurable momentum or will have stalled completely.
The current Clare panel is definitely capable of travelling to Tullamore this weekend and returning home still in the championship. Whether they will exit now or torpedo Offaly will be linked to the ambition, belief and readiness of the players and management.
If they climb on the bus in Ennis on Saturday with a “let’s get this over with” attitude, it definitely will soon be over. However, if they bring a collective desire to work as hard as they are capable of in O’Connor Park, Clare will have a concrete chance of defeating Offaly.
Although David Russell and Michael O’Shea haven’t trained with Clare since they lost to Waterford in Dungarvan on May 23, manager Micheál McDermott is hopeful that they will have shaken off their respective injuries by this weekend. Laurence Healy, Graham Kelly and Dessie Molohan are also available for selection, having been sidelined for the Waterford game.
John Hayes (Kilrush), Micheál Brooks (Coolmeen), Shane Canavan (Liscannor), Podge McMahon (Clondegad) and David O’Brien (Doora-Barefield) have also been added to the panel in recent weeks.
Limerick comprehensively beat Clare in a recent challenge game, while Clare defeated Mountbellew (Galway) in an earlier challenge.
Following their Munster championship reverse in Dungarvan, Clare returned to training the following Tuesday and trained for two weeks, before breaking for the first round of the club championship.
Last Friday, they played a full-scale internal game in Cusack Park, where Micheál McDermott feels the “spark” returned to the set-up.
The Clare manager acknowledges that he would have preferred home advantage this weekend but that said, he doesn’t fear Offaly.
“We would have liked to have the qualifier at home but we have to make do with the draw we’ve got. We’ve prepared as well as we possibly can and I think we’ll have the edge on Offaly on that side of things,” McDermott said.
“The lads are very, very determined to do well. If we win we progress, whereas we lose and that’s Clare football finished for 2010,” he reflected.
Offaly were beaten by Meath in the opening round of the Leinster championship. However, in the aftermath of that defeat, Offaly manager Tom Cribben expressed confidence that his side can regroup for the qualifiers.
“The players will feel they owe it to themselves. Definitely, they feel hard done by and they have a right to feel hard done by. These young lads need to see success in championship football and hopefully we can achieve that,” the Offaly manager said.
With the Clare minor, junior and U-21 footballers all having had very brief championship campaigns, the senior team is the last remaining hope. Clare football badly needs its flagship team to pull a gun-to-tape 70-minute performance from their resources before hopefully winning the game.
The first thing Clare have to do though is show that they have the belief, desire and fortitude to give it everything in O’Connor Park. If they do that, they will have an excellent chance. If they are not prepared to give their all, mentally and physically, they might as well not get on the bus.
Clare v Offaly will throw in at 2pm in O’Connor Park, Tullamore on Saturday.

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