Defeat might have been Clare’s lot for a second week running, but looking beyond the scoreline, the Banner will be quietly content with the curve of their progression.
It was an admittedly disappointing performance in the opening round against Armagh, but with only a six day turnaround and an arduous journey to Clones, Clare showed huge battling qualities in taking the game to the closing quarter.
As the clock hit the 45th minute just one point separated the sides, with Grainne Nolan’s 36th minute goal seeing Clare only in arrears by 0-12 to 1-8. Monaghan, a side with considerable senior experience, would outscore their visitors by 2-3 to 0-2 in the closing stages, but it was a game that Clare can take a huge amount of positives from according to manager James Murrihy.
“We have shown improvement from game one to game two which is probably what the league is all about. We were disappointed with the performance on the opening day but we just got back to the training field and looked at where things went wrong and right with the intention of putting all that into practice for the Monaghan game. With ten minutes to go the last day, we were only a point or two down with ten minutes to go and Monaghan pulled away with the few late goals” he noted.
Having conceded five goals in their opening round loss to Armagh, Clare were much better organised defensively this time around with Miceala Glynn’s goal standing firm until the closing stages. Clare were solid at the back in the opening period with only one clear cut goal chance coming late in the half for the Ulster outfit. The home side led 0-7 to 0-6 at the break, but Clare hit the front with Nolan’s goal. Monaghan’s experience told as they reeled off 0-4 without reply to wrest back control before pushing on to claim their second win of the campaign.
Murrihy was pleased with how his side responded with a spirited showing.
“It is something that we said to the girls from the outset that the league is really a building block and our end goal is the championship. Our league campaign was always going to be a little bit tougher with only the top two going to the final and you are in with five senior teams, compared to that chance to make a semi-final. The girls know that we are building and improving the whole time, there are players in new positions who are finding their feet and we are trying out different things. It is all about performance right now and from that perspective, we could not have asked any more of the girls. We were well in the game in the second half and we showed great improvements on the things we were not happy with from the Armagh game. We only had one goal chance that day but created four or five this time around. I would rather be in Division Two and losing games by five or six points than be in Division Three winning by that margin, because you learn far more in defeat than you do in victory” he said.
Up next for Clare is another trip north as they take on Tyrone this Saturday, and Murrihy is confident they can continue to build on what they have shown so far.
“We always looked at these first block of three games as being against three senior teams from the north and we were hoping to get three points from those games. Saturday is going to be really tough because Tyrone went to Armagh last weekend and won so they will be buoyed by that. They were beaten the previous week by Meath so it just shows any team can beat another in the division. I would like to think that having played Monaghan and Armagh already, we will be that bit more competitive as we go forward” he concluded.