AFTER spending last year exclusively on the sidelines, Shane Daniels is back on the field of play and hoping to propel Éire Óg to a first ever Munster final.
Before the Townies ended their 15 year wait to lift the Jack Daly Cup, they had consistently fallen at the quarter final stage with questions surrounding whether Éire Óg could win on the big day.
They have certainly answered those questions as Daniels believes this team’s mentality is one of their biggest strengths.
“Down the years we often lost tight games. Mentally this team is different. Their work ethic is huge and anything they are asked to do is never too much. We try and outwork every team so before a game we look at the opposition and try figure out how to do that.”
The Éire Óg shotstopper feels that despite the step up in competition that comes when competing in the provincial series, the Townies are keeping the same approach to each game.
“We try keep the same approach but we know we will get punished more by teams at this level. Our work rate has increased as the teams we play keep getting better. Our philosophy is to outwork every team so before each game we want to outdo the last one in terms of performance and work rate.”
Éire Óg have shown an ability to adapt to all challenges so far this year. They overcame a defensively orientated Ennistymon side with the underdogs stifling Paul Madden’s side up front for long stages.
However, the county champions still found a way to prevail while in their Munster quarter final, they struggled to crack the code that would unlock the Nire in the opening 30 minutes.
Once more though they uncovered the answers to the puzzle in front of them with a devastating third quarter propelling them through to a showdown with Kerins O’Rahillys.
The Kerry outfit will try to dictate the terms of battle and should show a greater willingness to attack Éire Óg.
Although this can lead to greater chances on the counter attack, Daniels states that the Townies cannot afford to invite pressure on.
“It works both ways. We could get more chances but they might score more than other teams so we can’t afford to allow them built momentum.
“It’s going to be a tough ask against a very good side. We need to play our best game of the year. We have to take the opportunities that come our way while making sure we don’t let them take control.”
After the disappointment of losing last year’s Munster semi-final to eventual provincial winners St. Finbarr’s, Daniels hopes his sides have learned their lessons from last December.
Éire Óg suffered an eight-point defeat as two first half goals propelled the Cork outfit through. The Townies faced their first away trip of their Munster campaign when venturing down to Páirc Uí Rinn, a similar situation to what they will experience this Sunday.
Daniels believes that lining out on away soil provides a different test of character for any side.
“There was a lot to learn from last year. It was our first real away trip. We had played at home against Loughmore-Castleiney so that trip down to Cork was a big test. We started ok but just got caught for two goals.”
“We know those lapses in concentration will be punished. Can we learn from that game? Yeah definitely. We know we have to manage the occasion and deal with travelling down to Kerry because it will be another test for us to manage that.”
If Éire Óg manage to come through this tricky assignment, a first ever Munster final awaits.
Daniels believes that the Jack Daly Cup holders cannot allow the lucrative prize on offer to distract them from the ultimate goal as Éire Óg aim to become the only the second Clare side since 2013 to progress through to a provincial decider.
“We try take every game as it comes. The prize is big, we know that, but all the focus is on the semi final.
“It would be massive for the club if we could come through, but we would be very naïve thinking about a final especially with the challenge in front of us.
“Not many teams go down to Kerry and come out of there with a result. We have to play well and if we do then we will see where that leaves us.
“We want to keep improving so hopefully we get a good performance and let the result look after itself.”
Considering the club lost two huge stalwarts in Pat Fitzpatrick and Jack Heaslip in recent times, Daniels feels a win on Sunday would be extra special as a result.
“They were two huge club men. Pat was personally a friend of mine so I know he’d be looking down and I’m sure he would be overjoyed if we won.
“They both would be so hopefully we can produce on the day.”