While the Clare senior hurlers have been riding on the crest of a wave of momentum so far, their footballing equivalents have contrastingly had to rebuild from the ground up once more over the past five weeks following a period of introspection.
Limerick’s historic penalty shoot-out victory over Colm Collins’ side may have provided unprecedented entertainment but such an agonising exit from the Munster Championship was a difficult pill to swallow as the Cratloe clubman admitted this week.
“Initially it was a frustrating experience to lose a game in that manner but after we spent the requisite amount of time mourning, I think we woke up to the fact that we were still in the championship and that there was a fantastic opportunity ahead and we had to embrace it.
“So I think once lads got that into their heads, things picked up again and have been very positive over the last few weeks so I think they’re in a very good place now and really looking forward to Saturday.”
“It helps that we have a full hand to pick from again you’d hope. We have a few niggles like any other team that we’ll assess over the coming days but Keelan [Sexton] and Cathal [O’Connor] are both back now so that’s a boost from the Limerick game.”
In terms of attempting to bounce back off the ropes, Clare were handed an ideal motivational tool when pitted against Andy McEntee’s Meath, a side that have beaten the Banner on five successive occasions in as many seasons.
“It’s time to turn the tide against them alright,” exclaimed Collins.
“They’ve had five wins in a row against us which is hard to explain. At the start, admittedly, they were really much better than us but in the last two meetings especially, it’s been really close.
“The meeting in Portlaoise [in the 2019 All-Ireland Senior Football Champions Round 4 Qualifier] could have gone either way while we were absolutely puzzled as to why we didn’t win in Cusack Park in this year’s league so it’s time to set that straight and hopefully get a win against them.”
Off the back of their own deflating 13 point Leinster semi-final reverse to perennial provincial champions Dublin, Meath are not without their own driving force heading into Saturday’s last chance saloon knock-out tie.
“Meath are a decent side with a lot of good players and an excellent manager so they started the championship well but the Dublin game was really difficult of course. But look, that’s all part and parcel of it and I’ve no doubt that they will be sufficiently motivated to bounce back on Saturday.
“I’ll put it this way, when they heard the draw, I don’t think they were too disappointed either so it’s important to bear that in mind but also have your own house in order and let them worry about the other house.
“Look, one of the most important things about the draw was getting home advantage so we have to make the most of that now.
“Therefore it would be fantastic to get a really good crowd in Cusack Park on Saturday evening.
“The Clare public have been great in the past so hopefully they’ll come and really get behind the team.
“We love to play in Cusack Park but we need to make it count on Saturday evening.”
All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Round 1
(Extra-Time if Necessary)
Clare v Meath at Cusack Park Ennis, Saturday 6pm
(Brendan Cawley, Kildare)