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Clare footballers must improve

IN the aftermath of Clare’s 2-23 to 0-17 Munster Championship semi-final defeat to Kerry in Killarney on June 12, the concession of two goals in the opening five minutes was highlighted as central to Clare’s compliant demise. Those goals were a massive set-back and sucked confidence from Clare. The fact that they managed to kick 0-17 was seen as an impressive total and while it was a decent return, contained within that statistic is a worrying figure. The starting six forwards kicked just 0-3 from play between them in 70 minutes of football. David Tubridy, Eoin Cleary and Podge Collins put over a point each. If they are to get beyond Laois on Sunday, the Clare forwards must up that return considerably. On the plus side Pearse Lillis, who came on for the black-carded Podge Collins seven minutes before half-time, kicked three superb points from play, while Gary Brennan and Cathal O’Connor put over 0-3 between them from midfield. The …

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Do or die in Shannonside hurling derby

Three of the players that filled key positions when Clare ensured promotion to division 1 A at the expense of Limerick as the end of March will play no part in Saturday’s qualifier meeting of the Shannonside neighbours at Thurles. Conor McGrath, Conor Ryan and Pat Kelly are all out of action due to injury. McGrath, one of the game’s leading forwards, contributed 0-5 from play in that game and his absence is certainly a blow to clare hopes of beinhg involved in the latter stages of the championship. Both McGrath and Kelly are keeping their fingers crossed that they will be ready for quarter final action on July 25 as is Ryan but the defender/midfielder may have to wait a little longer b efore he is ready to return to action. “Limerick won ‘t be afraid of us. It’s do or die now. We know the great young talent that they have. They have only been beaten three times …

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Early goals cost Clare in Killarney

Kerry 2-23 Clare 0-17 MUNSTER champions Kerry cruised into a provincial final meeting with Tipperary following a very comprehensive defeat of Clare in Killarney on Sunday. The four in a row chasing Eamon Fitzmaurice managed Kerry men finished with 13 players following an injury to Killian Young and a black card for Michael Geaney but it made no difference. They had made six substitutions when Young got injured and couldn’t replace him or the black carded Geaney. Clare, who trailed 2-10 to 0-9 at half-time, were hit by a savage blow as the game ticked into its second minute when a Colm Cooper shot for a point drifted over the head of Joe Hayes and full back Kevin Harnett. Within five minutes Kerry corner forward Stephen O’Brien, who scored 1-4 in the opening half, put away his goal after Bryan Sheehan won a contest for a Clare kick out with Gary Brennan. Paul Murphy made a support run and O’Brien …

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Clare and Kerry teams named for Sunday

THE Clare footballers have named an unchanged team for Sunday’s Munster semi-final meeting with Kerry in Killarney. Despite speculation that Podge Collins and Shane McGrath might have played their way into the starting 15, both have been named on the bench. The Clare and Kerry teams were named a short time ago with the Kingdom giving championship debuts to two players in this weekends provincial semi-final. The Clare team is as follows: Joe Hayes (Lissycasey); Dean Ryan (Éire Óg), Kevin Harnett (Meelick), Martin McMahon (Kilmurry Ibrickane); Seán Collins (Cratloe), Gordon Kelly (St Joseph’s, Miltown), Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora); Gary Brennan (Clondegad-captain), Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen); Eoin Cleary ((Miltown), Jamie Malone (Corofin), Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare); Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane), David Tubridy (Doonbeg), Pat Burke (Kilmacud Crokes). Two players will make their débuts for Kerry against Clare on Sunday. Wing backs Brian O’Beaglaoich and Tadhg Morley will play their first championship game for their county. Kerry manager Eamon Fitzmaurice has made five changes to …

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Clare footballers need to out-work Kerry

CLARE’S display against Limerick on May 29 ensured that external expectation will not be an issue in Killarney on Sunday. Supporters will travel in the hope that Clare play well and at least compete with Kerry but nobody will realistically expect a first championship win over their opponents in 24 years. Within the group of Clare players and management, they will presumably head across the estuary with more ambition and belief. Two years ago, Clare competed manfully with Kerry in Cusack Park in that year’s Munster semi-final. Clare were beaten 1-17 to 1-13 on a day when Kerry’s Paul Murphy scored a goal on his championship début at corner-back. That year, Clare played five championship games and were very close to making it to the last 12 of the All-Ireland qualifiers. However, since then, Clare have not reached that level on the championship field, although their second league promotion indicates that significant progress has been made. The thing now is …

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Clare footballers need to shape up

WINNING a championship game should never be derided, yet a worrying trend is developing as far as the Clare footballers are concerned. Sunday’s three-point win over Limerick, who haven’t won a game for 14 months, was the fourth successive championship game in which Clare failed to play anywhere close to their optimum level. Last year, they beat Limerick by two points in Cusack Park, before losing to Cork (1-20 to 1-8) in Pairc Uí Rinn in the Munster semi-final. They exited the All-Ireland qualifiers in their next game, losing 2-12 to 1-12 at home to Longford on July 4. In contrast, they played some excellent championship football in 2014, albeit losing to eventual All-Ireland champions Kerry in Ennis and to Kildare in the All-Ireland qualifiers. However, Clare did play five championship games that year, including a draw against Waterford, before winning the replay in Dungarvan. Their second championship win that year was away to Carlow in Dr Cullen Park. Based …

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Davy’s third goal in sight

Sitting down to plan out Clare’s programme for the 2016 hurling season, manager Davy Fitzgerald underlined three goals – get out of Division 1 B, do well in the league, be ready for the championship clash with Waterford. It’s so far two-from-two, with the third objective looming large on Sunday. The two league meetings have added to the game, Fitzgerald feels. “Waterford went on about frees the last day. Look at the stats in relation to the frees they had the last day and the day before, you will see that Clare came out at the wrong end of both of them. It was even enough the last day but we were well down the day before. Our possession was higher than Waterford. “Waterford have a certain way of playing. It’s going to be very hard for this to be a high-scoring game, we got good scores the last day when there was very little space in the middle third …

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