CLARE manager John Minogue said he was concerned on many occasions during Saturday’s thrilling All-Ireland U-21 hurling championship semi-final.
“In a game like that, you have to be concerned but the spirit of this team stood out. We had a lot of heroes on the day. They stood up. Some guys played well for 20 minutes, got cramp and others then stood up.
“It was great to bring a bit of joy to the Clare public. We had great support,” he said shortly after seeing his charges defeat Galway to secure an All-Ireland U-21 hurling final date for the first time in the county’s history.
While the St Flannan’s college teacher was full of praise for all of the team, he had a special word of praise for the team’s top scorer.
“Darach Honan really kept us in the game and he was a real thorn for them but Joe Canning, of course, was the same for them,” he said.
He also had a word of praise for team captain Ciarán O’Doherty. “Ciarán went down with severe cramp before the second period extra time but he had the last word before play resumed.”
Were they motivated by the heartbreaking defeat suffered in the Munster final last year in Ennis?
“There was so such thing as revenge. We knew we had a pretty good team, it was to get the best out of them. We have got a lot out of them. They have given an awful lot and anyone who knows any of them knows that there are characters in the team, there is spirit in them. We really don’t have a lot to do. Okay we have to pick the team but when you send them out to play a game they do very, very well,” came the reply.
What about final opponents Kilkenny? “We played them in a challenge in Kilkenny seven or eight weeks ago, it was a good match but they were missing Hogan and a few others. We were missing guys as well. Look we are in Croke Park in September and isn’t that where hurling people want to be.”
Minogue’s opposite number, Anthony Cunningham, admitted to being “devastated” before paying a warm tribute to Clare.
“We are heartbroken but I sincerely want to wish the best of luck to Clare. They got over the line and we didn’t. It would be super for Clare and the non traditional counties if they won an All-Ireland at this level,” said the Galway boss.
Cunningham added that it was a marvellous game and nobody deserved to lose. “We would have been delighted to get a draw. We missed a couple of chances but full credit to Clare. We came up a small bit short and it was no fault of anybody’s.”
What about the performance of Joe Canning ?
“He is a great player, a fantastic hurler”, replied the Galway boss.