IF experience is a key ingredient to success in the Oscar Traynor Cup, then Clare have a strong hand, as team captain Pat Purcell is one of the most experienced players taking part in this year’s competition.
He leads the side in their quarter final tie away to Sligo/Leitrim this Saturday.
Having played League of Ireland football with Limerick for a number of seasons, he returned to junior football this season when he joined Newmarket Celtic.
Purcell previously played in this competition with Limerick, as he was playing his junior football with Fairview Rangers at the time.
Acknowledging that “there is a commitment involved”, he said it isn’t as great as that required for League of Ireland football.
He has a similar view to that of team manager Mick Shiel in relation to the running of the competition.
“There are too many gaps. Lads in the Oscar Traynor squad might not see each other for weeks because of the gaps in the game schedule,” the Shannon based skipper said.
Purcell is one of a number of Newmarket Celtic players in the squad. The club side is enjoying a successful season, chasing the cup and league double in Clare, while they have reached the semi-final of the Munster Junior Cup.
“They feed off each other to a certain degree. The hard part is the stopping and starting. The challenge is to maintain the standard and that can be difficult as some of the players involved may be from clubs that are out of the running for domestic honours and in that situation, it’s hard to maintain focus.”
Looking ahead to Saturday’s fixture, he said, “We have to focus on our own game plan as that’s all we can control”.
He hasn’t any concerns about an evening kick-off under lights. “Most of the lads have played under lights and we have done a lot under lights at the County Grounds in Doora.”
Purcell believes, “It would be a big boost for the game in Clare if we can progress. We will be going to Sligo determined to win the game, as there is no point going otherwise. We want to win and get to the semi-final”.
By Seamus Hayes, sports editor