Éire Óg manager Paul Madden insists that despite his side facing the arduous task of downing Kerry’s Kerins O’Rahillys in Austin Stack Park, the Townies feel they are capable of producing their best display of the year on Sunday.
Despite Kerry and Cork dominating the Munster scene, Madden feels that last year’s campaign showed they were able to compete with any side in the province.
His side have learned lessons from their defeat to St. Finbarr’s at this stage of the competition 11 months ago.
“The big learning we took is that you cannot switch off. In the previous six or seven games before last year’s game (against St. Finbarr’s) when we conceded a free, the free taker would saunter out and we would reset.
“The first free they got they took a short one and got a goal from it. The really good teams look up and see opportunities so that was definitely the major take from last year.”
“The next one was that there is not a huge gulf in class between any of the champions in Munster. Each county champion has pedigree so we can take great stock in that. Finbarr’s only shot one wide from play in the whole game, so we know at this level teams won’t waste many chances.”
The manager of the Temple Gate Hotel knows his charges will need to produce their best performance of the year if they are to upset the odds in this provincial semi final.
“Any team that are representing Kerry will have quality players. They have a number of Kerry players and All-Ireland medals in their team. I imagine they fancy their chances at home versus a team from Clare.
“It will be our toughest test because they play at a fast pace and move the ball quickly. They are all able to score off their left or right foot. We need to be on the top of our game heading away from home. If we are then we know we will be there or thereabouts.”
Madden states that Conall Ó hÁiniféin (ACL) is the only player ruled out of Sunday’s showdown.
Despite the ever increasing focus on tactics, systems and transitions, when we discuss his side’s exemplary defensive record so far this year, the Éire Óg manager outlines the three key principles that he expects his players to abide by.
“For us our defending starts from the front. It isn’t just the six backs. At the centre of what we do is maintaining discipline, structure and our work rate needs to be high. Those are important for us every day we line out.”
With Éire Óg just 60 minutes of football away from an inaugural appearance in a Munster final, Madden insists his charges will not alter their approach.
Instead, he wants his side to reproduce their third quarter display against the Nire as they plundered 3-5 without reply in a scintillating response to falling behind just after the break.
“Last year we wanted to get past that quarter final stage after losing out four years in a row. We then pushed on and this year even though we wanted to win the county title again, we took it one game at a time.
“The back to back (of county titles) never came up until we had achieved it so it’s always about just focusing on the next game.”
“We always want to better ourselves and we want to represent Clare as best we can. Those first 18 minutes of the second half were as good as we have played in my time as manager, so we know going down to Tralee that we need to bring that level of performance.”
The scoring rates of teams across the country in both codes has dropped off mainly due to the deteriorating weather condition. Madden knows that the game changes this time of year when compared to the start of the club season during the summer.
He believes the fundamentals of the game must be executed at a greater rate of accuracy this time of year.
“Winter football is about getting the basics right. The scores tend to be lower at this level anyway when you are competing against the best from each county. You have to be tactically aware and exploit every opportunity.”
“We have to get the most return from our attacks because you mightn’t get 20 chances in a game. If you get 10 then you have to take most of those to have any chance.”
“The team that makes the fewest mistakes and just gets the basics right will come through. I expect it to go right down to the wire. I’d be fairly confident travelling down that if we bring our ‘A’ game that we will be there or thereabouts.”