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Paul Madden, Eire Og Manager, on the sideline during their senior championship semi final at Cusack Park. Photograph by John Kelly

Madden hoping tough tests will stand to Éire Óg

Éire Óg manager Paul Madden is hoping his side’s battling qualities will be on display once more when the Townies face Kilmurry/Ibrickane in an eagerly anticipated showdown.

Unlike this Sunday’s opponents, Éire Óg have suffered a defeat in this year’s Championship when falling to a 0-14 to 1-10 defeat against Clondegad in the group stages.

With much talk surrounding the five team group which contained some of the traditional powerhouses of Clare football, Madden states that when the draw was made, it was immediately apparent that his side would face a huge test when pitted against Lissycasey, Clondegad and Doonbeg.

“It was obvious to me that our group was always going to be difficult. Every team would have fancied their chances of progressing. Lissycasey got to the semi final last year, Clondegad reached the county final not so long ago and Doonbeg got to the semi finals two years ago. We knew if we could make it out of the group we would be in a good place and I think those games have stood to us.”

One of the biggest stories of the Club Championship season within Clare has been Éire Óg’s success in both codes. Although they saw hopes of reaching both county finals dashed by Inagh/Kilnamona last weekend, there is no doubt that they are heading in the right direction.

“In Éire Óg we have a very proud history of being a dual club. The players are very proud to wear the jersey. To facilitate the players we need that bond and communication with the hurling lads. Our goal was to make the knockout stages in both codes and if we did that then we knew we would be under pressure with the amount of games coming.”

“It was very disappointing to lose the hurling. It felt like the lads just didn’t perform to the standard they would have hoped to against Inagh/Kilnamona. We hope it’s not a physical thing.”

Gavin Cooney did not feature for the hurlers last weekend with Madden stating that his captain is “in a race against time to be fit.” Darren O’Brien is currently nursing a hamstring injury picked up in that semi final defeat.

Madden’s charges are aiming to win their first county title in 15 years but he believes his young side will not feel additional pressure to change that statistic.

“We had four of our backroom team involved in 2006 when we won it and in ’07 too when we fell just short. Shane Daniels was playing when I was a selector so when Shane and the lads back then were reaching finals, you would almost expect it to happen regularly but time flies.”

“It’s not easy to get back there. I’m not sure the past is relevant to this group. They have underage success and their own history. They won’t know much about the ’06 team so I don’t think the past comes in to play for these guys.”

The defeats have been painful. In 2019, they lost after extra time to Doonbeg in the quarter final with progression past that stage proving challenging in recent years.

“When you look back on that Doonbeg defeat we had a lot of U21s that day who learned a lot from that defeat. I don’t buy the whole you need to lose before you win but experience helps. The experience helped against Ennistymon and also the last day in the semi final. There has been a strong focus with our group on developing the know how to win games.”

The Éire Óg manager is under no illusions to the challenge his side face when they come up against the reigning champions on Sunday afternoon.
Despite being content with his side’s display against St. Breckan’s, he believes his side need to improve if they are to lift the Jack Daly Cup.

“St Breckan’s have a number of household names but we knew if we stuck to our plan and limited their chances then we would be in the mix. We ticked a lot of boxes but that performance won’t be good enough to beat Kilmurry/Ibrickane. They have serious footballers who have won numerous county titles so the challenge ahead is huge.”

So what do the Townies need to do if they are to reign supreme on Sunday?

“We need to focus on ourselves. We have to try and play to our strengths while continuing to do what we have been all year which is just focusing on the next ball. It will be a titanic battle and we will give it our all. We will be happy enough and hopefully that will help us wrestle back the Jack Daly Cup.”

by Ivan Smyth

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