THE most telling moment in Thurles on Saturday evening was when hundreds of determined Clare youngsters, mostly under the age of 10, lined up four or five deep on both sidelines in Semple Stadium.
It should be noted that they leaped over the hoardings with a minute or two still left on Colm Lyons stopwatch, determined to position themselves in the scramble for photo opportunities and autographs.
It underlines the depth of interest engendered in the children of Clare when Podge Collins is still on the field at 7.30pm, well over an hour after the game finished. It’s likely that Antrim were well up the road towards Belfast and the famous Glens, by the time the Clare players eventually made the dressing room.
Perhaps that’s where the real value in Clare’s facile win was. It gave an opportunity for the children of the county to storm onto Semple Stadium, surround their heroes and make sure that they didn’t get away without acceding to every autograph request.
The game was well over midway through the first half and that gave management an opportunity to take off the four senior players and give their substitutes a meaningful run. Had Clare been able to make ten or more changes, they would have and the result would not have been impacted.
The ovations that greeted the substitutions of Tony Kelly, Podge Collins, Colm Galvin and David McInerney nearly lifted the roof in Thurles. That underlined how highly their own public hold them. Lets hope that feel good factor is still evident come the evening of Saturday, September 28 in Croke Park.
Two All-Ireland titles within a fortnight? That double prospect is still on.