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Clare Minor Football Manager, Dermot Coughlan. Photograph by John Kelly

Munster Final fever evident at all levels of Clare football

Munster Minor Phase 1 Football Championship Final
Tipperary v Clare
at Mick Neville Park Rathkeale, Tuesday 7pm (Eoghan Ó Muircheartaigh, Kerry)

Having already secured not only a Munster Semi-Final place against either Cork or Kerry along with a place in the new tiered All-Ireland series, one would think that the Clare minors may not have their full focus on this Tuesday’s Phase 1 Final against Tipperary.
However, nothing could be further from the truth according to manager Dermot Coughlan, who despite being beaten by the Premier last time out in their group decider in Quilty, is gunning for a first Daryl Darcy Cup success in five years.
“We’re well aware of Tipperary’s qualities and how good they are but then again how many Clare football captains get to lift a championship cup? I mean bar a few Daryl Darcy’s, you’re probably going back to 1992 [Munster Senior title] so this is a great opportunity for these lads.
“It’s a championship match and one-off game with a cup on offer so we’re not even thinking about a Munster Semi-Final on Tuesday week, for us this is it, everything is up for grabs this Tuesday in Rathkeale so we’ve got to make the most of it.”
Being the first time since 2019 that Clare have reached the business end of the Munster Minor Championship, achieving their primary aim does open the door of opportunity for the class of ’24.
“It’s great to be looking forward to a fourth championship game number one as it’s been a while since we reached the second phase. We had played three matches in as many weeks so it was also nice to get a week’s break and try to work on a few things.
“Obviously the last day in Quilty we were both experimental, Tipp more than us to be fair so we’re well aware of their quality as they have been touted as the strongest Tipp minor team to come out of the county since winning the All-Ireland in 2011.
“So that’s the challenge that faces us now and we’ve always said that we wanted to test ourselves against the best so we’re looking forward to it now.
“I mean we’ve learned every day we’ve taken to the field. That started against Waterford who had a very structured gameplan and took the game to us so it took us until the death to overcome that and maybe against Limerick in the second half we played our best football.
“I mentioned us being experimental against Tipp but we did try out a few things that we can hopefully use next Tuesday night while others things just didn’t work out but the main thing is that we feel that we’ve improved with every game and the one thing that has stood to us throughout those three games is that everytime we’ve gone to the bench, it has probably made a difference.”
With the news filtering through to both the senior and minors in Caherlohan on Tuesday night that Ennis will host the Munster Senior Final five days after the Daryl Darcy Final, Kilmurry Ibrickane clubman Coughlan is eager to capitalise upon the current momentum.
“It’s a massive time for Clare football and I cannot emphasise enough the job that the lads have done at senior level. They came in last winter with twelve lads missing from last year and not only consolidated their Division 3 status but came within a game of being promoted back to Division 2. “And only last weekend, they’ve qualified for a Munster Final, now a home Munster Final so for me ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’ as my players go to all these matches and we’ve tried to organise away games to suit watching the seniors as a group.
“On the week of a Munster Final, to be playing a Daryl Darcy Final, I can’t emphasise enough how big a lift it has given the underage system from developments squads at Under 14’s right up to the 20’s so hopefully we can take advantage of that now and maybe even lead the way for the seniors.”

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