Clare welcome Kilkenny to Cusack Park this Sunday, with both teams coming out of varying results.
Clare are looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss to Tipperary, while The Cats strut into town following a comfortable victory over a lack-lustre Cork.
Kilkenny legend DJ Carey reckons now is the time to take chances on the new players and also maybe consider moving David McInerney further out the field, so the Tulla man can have more of an influence in games.
“If I had any slight criticism of Clare, and most people know I’m a big admirer of Clare hurling and the skill level they bring and in particular Tony Kelly, it would be that Clare have not tried or used enough players in the last few years. I don’t know what the stats are exactly but day in day out, it was a similar team and the same two or three guys coming on. So this is a great opportunity now because every team needs freshness and new guys coming in to push the older guys for places. Maybe I’m wrong on this but I think there are plenty of good hurlers in Clare that haven’t really made the breakthrough yet and this league might be a big one for them,” Carey believes.
He was impressed with Huw Lawlor at full-back last weekend for Kilkenny and reckons Clare may benefit from trialling players at full-back, thus releasing David McInerney further up the field to have a bigger bearing on games.
“Huw Lawlor has been on the panel for a few years but hasn’t gotten much of a chance. We all knew this year, without knowing Cody’s thoughts, that Lawlor would get a chance this year. Full-back is not a major problem for Kilkenny, in that they have a very good player in Pádraig Walsh playing there. But it is a problem in the sense that Kilkenny need Walsh hurling further out the field, simple as. So we need to find a full-back and Huw Lawlor has been playing well.
“To me, David McInerney is a superb hurler all round. Brilliant speed, brilliant fitness, one of the fastest hurlers in the country. I’m not saying he’s too good to be full-back because full-backs need to be one of the best players on the team nowadays but I just think he could drive the game far more, like Pádraig Walsh. You need drivers of a team.
“You need to find full-backs, not place one of your best hurlers in there; that would be my opinion. No matter the player at full-back, they will be caught out sometimes in the modern game, as forwards are so good and the ball being supplied to them is even better,” explained Carey.
While there has been much talk of transition recently when it comes to Kilkenny hurling, he said this is nothing new and just because there are changes in personnel, the same fight that typifies Kilkenny is in the squad now and Clare should expect this fight come Sunday.
“There have been four or five transitions under Brian Cody. Ok, we don’t have the Henry Shefflin, the Tommy Walsh, the JJ Delaney but when they came on the scene, they weren’t the players that they were either, they took time to come into it. So, the Huw Lawlors and Paddy Deegans need to make their own names for themselves now.
“I was at the Kilkenny game last week and there was no tactics in that game. The odd ball to Billy Ryan in the corner but that’s it. Kilkenny out-fought Cork and that is what both teams [Clare and Kilkenny] are looking for at the minute – who is up for a battle? Win, lose or draw, both teams are looking to find out what’s inside,” Carey said.
He was also keen to point out his disapproval at Tony Kelly’s red card during the Tipperary game last week and expressed hope that referees will use common sense on a wider scale and that they will differentiate between tackles that are slightly high, but not malicious, and dirty tackles.
“I’m not in agreement with the Tony Kelly sending off. I’m a big fan of Tony and always have been. I see Willie Barrett coming out talking about any head-high tackle… I don’t see an accidental tackle as a head-high tackle. I see a head-high tackle as a frontal charge or a clatter of a hurl or a pull of a helmet. Tony was just trying to make a tackle and he was red-carded.
“I’m not in favour of it and I think Willie Barrett and referees need to actually make sense of it, rather than coming out with a rule that makes no sense. We brought in equipment and rules to make the game safer; what we don’t want is the art of the tackle taken out of the game,” he concluded.